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Autodesk's Magic Finger Turns Any Surface into Touchscreen

By - Source: Discovery News | B 16 comments

Here's a way to control your smartphone without having to take it out of your pocket or purse.

Discovery News reports that a group of researchers from the University of Alberta, University of Toronto and Autodesk Research has created a device called the "Magic Finger". It fits on the end of the user's index finger like a miniature pulse oximetry and virtually turns any surface into a touchscreen. The device was presented last week at the at the 25th ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

According to the report, the device allows the wearer to use finger gestures to control devices even if they aren't present. Tovi Grossman, a scientist at Autodesk Research, said that one example would be a scenario where a user's smartphone is in his/her pocket. By using the finger-based peripheral, the user could make a swiping gesture and execute a function like making a call.

The gadget consists of two cameras, one micro RGB camera that can sense the surface of the nearest texture (shirt, pants, couch, etc), and one that can sense motion. The texture-sensing aspect means the user can program different commands that's sent to the connected device based on different textures. Thus, swiping across an arm could be a command for calling a spouse, and swiping across the back of the user's head could be a command for dismissing a call from mom.

"A technical evaluation shows that Magic Finger can accurately sense 32 textures with an accuracy of 98.9-percent," Autodesk Research claims. "We explore the interaction design space enabled by Magic Finger, and implement a number of novel interaction techniques that leverage its unique capabilities."

Discover reports that Grossman and his colleagues aren't limiting the technology to just smartphone use. Even more, he points out that Magic Finger (we need a better name for that, sorry) would be the ideal companion for Google Glasses, as Google's headset is "merely a display mechanism". Even more, the finger gadget could be used on game consoles, scan QR codes and more.

Still, he doesn't see the finger device replacing the typical desktop mouse, as it's not that accurate. For more information about the project, there's a ten-page PDF entitled "Magic Finger: Always-Available Input through Finger Instrumentation" available on the Autodesk Research website.

 

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  • 18 Hide
    vittau , October 21, 2012 5:25 PM
    Anyone else thinks touch controls are a bit overrated?
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    megahustler , October 21, 2012 4:59 PM
    Finally E.T. can phone home!
  • 18 Hide
    vittau , October 21, 2012 5:25 PM
    Anyone else thinks touch controls are a bit overrated?
  • -6 Hide
    jkflipflop98 , October 21, 2012 6:17 PM
    vittauAnyone else thinks touch controls are a bit overrated?


    Yes, because your keyboard and mouse aren't just touch controls mapped to a 2d plane or anything. . . oh wait they are. . .
  • 3 Hide
    Parsian , October 21, 2012 6:57 PM
    This remind me of this TV ad:
    /watch?v=m_z13XymWVU
  • -6 Hide
    echondo , October 21, 2012 7:04 PM
    jkflipflop98Yes, because your keyboard and mouse aren't just touch controls mapped to a 2d plane or anything. . . oh wait they are. . .


    You know exactly what he is talking about, don't be ignorant.

    Vittau, yes it is overrated just like 3D gaming/movies. It'll die off soon enough.
  • 3 Hide
    vittau , October 21, 2012 7:24 PM
    jkflipflop98Yes, because your keyboard and mouse aren't just touch controls mapped to a 2d plane or anything. . . oh wait they are. . .

    How about you drive your car with touch controls, since the wheel is just touch controls mapped to an axis?
  • 3 Hide
    DRosencraft , October 21, 2012 10:21 PM
    What? No perverted jokes, or jokes about cheap hotel rooms? Oh well...

    Yeah, don't get why so many are complaining. It's a clever and interesting piece of tech if you're interested in touch-based technology. If you're not, why even click the link? It plainly states what the articles about in the title. Don't like touch, no one's forcing you, so why bother reading about it?
  • 3 Hide
    nameon , October 21, 2012 11:56 PM
    echondoYou know exactly what he is talking about, don't be ignorant.Vittau, yes it is overrated just like 3D gaming/movies. It'll die off soon enough.

    Or we have already become 'the old guard' and they will become a standard only our kids would understand...
  • 0 Hide
    adgjlsfhk , October 22, 2012 4:00 AM
    If these become more accurate and much smaller, you could attach 1 per finger and do awesome things.
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , October 22, 2012 6:38 AM
    Hmm, using finger... It will be pleasurable..
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 22, 2012 6:45 AM
    I would this is a mini mouse (micky's girl...) I mean it's not like this turns any screen into a screen in the first place now does it.
  • 1 Hide
    jbourne84 , October 22, 2012 12:41 PM
    hilarious, i was wondering what they did with all the autocad money... since it clearly wasnt going back into the software.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 22, 2012 1:22 PM
    so it's just crap? Isn't it bad enough people make pocket calls all the time on accident now they will be driving along trying to use a cellphone they have tucked snugly in their anus to call their grandma to ask her the name of the porno flick they were watchin the other day and end up liquifying a group of midgets on their way to the circus or your kids whatever. People have a hard enough time using their phone while they are able to see the screen. Put the vibrating bit back in to your mothers "finger massager" and give it back to her she has been a lil jumpy lately.
  • 0 Hide
    blueeyesm2k4 , October 22, 2012 5:06 PM
    vittauHow about you drive your car with touch controls, since the wheel is just touch controls mapped to an axis?



    James Bond did something similar once,...

    Q > Steve Jobs, The Woz and Torvalds Linus
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , June 19, 2013 6:56 AM
    Looks/sounds more like a finger-mounted optical mouse with some gesture stuff tacked on than a touch-control to me.
  • 0 Hide
    SvRommelvS , June 21, 2013 8:13 AM
    Useful for the Google Glass. Useful for phablets and tablets that may be temporarily mounted in front of the user to function as a pure screen--at which point it's a mouse.