If we really want wearable computing to take off as a concept, we’re going to need lightweight input devices that can do some heavy lifting. Sure, split ergo keyboards are awesome. But it seems silly to restrict the possibilities of cyberdecks by limiting the horizons to imitations of desk-bound computing concepts.
What we really need are things like [Zach Freedman]’s somatic data glove. This fantastically futuristic finger reader is inspired by DnD spells that have a somatic component to them — a precise hand gesture that must be executed perfectly while the spell is spoken, lest it be miscast. The idea is to convert hand gestures to keyboard presses and mouse clicks using a Teensy that’s housed in the wrist-mounted box. You are of course not limited to computing on the go, but who could resist walking around the danger zone with this on their wrist?
Each finger segment contains a magnet, and there’s a Hall effect sensor in each base knuckle to detect when gesture movement has displaced a magnet. There’s a 9-DoF IMU mounted in the thumb that will eventually allow letters to be typed by drawing them in the air. All of the finger and thumb components are housed in 3D-printed enclosures that are mounted on a cool-looking half glove designed for weightlifters. [Zach] is still working on gesture training, but has full instructions for building the glove up on Instructables.
Gesture control is a technology that has floated around for quite a while, but never quite reached mainstream acceptance. Wii Bowling was fun for a while, but we’re not regularly using gestures to open doors or order pizza just yet. Doing it yourself can be quite easy, however, as [RC Lover san] found with a barebones, hacky build.
Typically, when we think of gesture control, we envisage object tracking cameras or MEMS accelerometers. Instead, this build uses simple tilt switches, as you might find in a pinball machine from days of yore. Four of these are placed on a wrist-mounted device, allowing the user to tilt their arm to move an RC car in different directions. The tilt switches are easy to hack into the controller for a toy RC car, as they simply replace the existing buttons on the PCB.
It’s a project that goes to show that not everything has to be done with advanced sensors and complex algorithms. Sometimes, it can all be done with a handful of cheap switches and some ingenuity. Plus, using arm movements to scoot BB-8 around on the floor looks like great fun. We’ve seen other attempts to build simple gesture controls with pots, too. Video after the break.
It’s hard to beat the fidelity and durability of printed text on paper. But the e-paper display gets pretty close, and if you couple it will great design and dependable features, you might just prefer an e-reader over a bookshelf full of paperbacks. What if the deal is sweetened by making it Open Hardware? The Open Book Project rises to that challenge and has just been named the winner of the Take Flight with Feather contest.
This e-reader will now find its way into the wild, with a small manufacturing run to be put into stock by Digi-Key who sponsored this contest. Let’s take a closer look at the Open Book, as well as the five other top entries.
The project consists of a small car, driven with electric motors at the rear, with a servo-controlled caster at the front for steering. Controlled is provided through PIC32 microcontroller receiving signals via Bluetooth. The car is commanded with a hand controller, quite literally — consisting of an accelerometer measuring pitch and roll position of the user’s hand. By tilting the hand left and right affects steering, while the hand is rotated fore and aft for throttle control. Video after the break.
The project was built for a course at Cornell University, and thus is particularly well documented. It provides a nice example of reading sensor inputs and transmitting/receiving data. The actually microcontroller used is less important than the basic demonstration of “Hello World” with robotics concepts. Keep this one in your back pocket for the next time you want to take a new chip for a spin!
[Dennis] aims to make robotic control a more intuitive affair by ditching joysticks and buttons, and using wireless gesture controls in their place. What’s curious is that there isn’t an accelerometer or gyro anywhere to be seen in his Palm Power! project.
The gesture sensing consists not of a fancy IMU, but of two potentiometers (one for each axis) with offset weights attached to the shafts. When the hand tilts, the weights turn the shafts of the pots, and the resulting readings are turned into motion commands and sent over Bluetooth. The design certainly has a what-you-see-is-what-you-get aspect to it, and as a whole it works much like an inverted, weighted joystick hanging from one’s palm.
It’s an economical way to play with the idea of motion sensing, and when it comes to prototyping, being able to test a concept while keeping costs to a minimum is a good skill to have.
[Dimitris Platis] wanted to add gesture control to his PC. You’d think that would be expensive, but by combining a diminutive Arduino, a breakout board with a gesture controller, and an interconnect PCB, he managed to pull it off for about $7. That doesn’t include the optional 3D-printed case and we think you could omit the interconnect board if you don’t mind some wires and further cut costs. [Dimitris] calls it Nevma, and you can see how the device works in the video below.
The heart of the project is a sensor that measures light and motion. The chip and the breakout board are just a couple of bucks if you order them from China. You can find them in the US if you don’t mind spending a little bit more. The device has an I2C interface, and [Dimitris] uses a tiny Mini SS Micro for the USB interface and the CPU.
Movies love to show technology they can’t really build yet. Even in 2001: A Space Oddessy (released in 1968), for example, the computer screens were actually projected film. The tablet they used to watch the news looks like something you could pick up at Best Buy this afternoon. [CircuitDigest] saw Iron Man and that inspired him to see if he could control his PC through gestures as they do on that film and so many others (including Minority Report). Although he calls it “virtual reality,” we think of VR as being visually immersed and this is really just the glove, but it is still cool.
The project uses an Arduino on the glove and Processing on the PC. The PC has a webcam which tracks the hand motion and the glove has two Hall effect sensors to simulate mouse clicks. Bluetooth links the glove and the PC. You can see a video of the thing in action, below.