MIT accessorizes your thumbnail with track pad
Easily reached by the neighbouring forefinger, the miniaturized track pad could be used to wirelessly scroll through any interface or enhance existing ones.
Dubbed NailO, the prototype is disclosed in a paper to be presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Computer-Human Interaction conference in Seoul, South Korea.
According to Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, an MIT graduate student in media arts and sciences and one of the new paper’s lead authors, the device was inspired by the colorful stickers that some women apply to their nails. “It’s a cosmetic product, popular in Asian countries,” says Kao, who is Taiwanese. “When I came here, I was looking for them, but I couldn’t find them, so I’d have my family mail them to me.”
In fact, one implementation of the thumbnail track pad could mimic such nail stickers, with a detachable membrane allowing users to coordinate surface patterns with their outfits.
The researchers built their prototype by printing copper electrodes on sheets of flexible polyester, which allowed them to experiment with a range of different electrode layouts. They’ve also been in discussion with battery manufacturers and have identified a technology that they think could yield a battery that fits in the space of a thumbnail, but is only half a millimeter thick. Ideally, they’ll be looking at integrating the functions of the microcontroller, radio, and capacitive sensor all in one chip to further save space.
To save battery when not in use, the touch function would be deactivated by long touches, up to two or three seconds.
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