Computer scientists at the University of Waterloo have created a wearable computer input device that can be used in a variety of situations, just touching your fingertips in different ways.
The device, called tip tap, uses radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to sense when your fingertips touch. It’s cheap and battery free. Therefore, the device can be added to disposable surgical gloves, allowing surgeons to access the preoperative plan map in the operating room.
The device can be used in surgery. Now, the typical case of digital surgery is that assistants are responsible for operating computers and communicating with surgeons, but this is slow and difficult. Daniel Vogel, a professor at the David R. Cheriton School of computer science at the University of Waterloo, said: “if surgeons try to navigate by themselves using a touch screen or mouse, it’s problematic because it will need to be constantly disinfected, and current alternatives, such as large gestures tracked by computer vision, can become tiring. If you wear tip tap on the glove, the surgeon can navigate the computer from his own position without affecting other operations, such as picking up the scalpel. “
As part of a collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), the researchers created a prototype tip tap.
Photo source: University of Waterloo
In the development of this method, researchers drew the most comfortable area on the index finger for people to touch with their thumb, and tested different designs of input points, such as smooth and concave convex. After using early “wired” prototypes for user testing to test performance benchmarks, they solved the problem of making them “battery free.”.
For the first time in history, researchers have been able to create hands-free batteries by splitting the RFID tag antenna in two and installing three chips on each side to achieve two-dimensional fingertip input.
The new RFID tags can be integrated into gloves or pasted directly on the skin as temporary tattoos.
“We used this design in two prototype tip tap devices with a range of four meters and tattoos on the skin,” Vogel said Such devices are useful for issuing simple commands when the user cannot easily hold the input device and the context is defined, such as factory workers, surgeons or people exercising in the gym.
“This is the only device of its kind we know that can make it work without batteries or cumbersome wires.”
The study, tip tap: battery free discrete 2D fingertip input, was written by Vogel, Omid abari, Ju Wang, Ziyang Shan, Ningshan Ouyang and Keiko katsuragawa of the Waterloo School of mathematics, who is also a NRC researcher. This research was recently presented at the ACM user interface software and Technology Symposium (UIST), the premier forum for human-computer interface innovation.
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