Skip to main content

Autodesk's Magic Finger Turns Any Surface into Touchscreen

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.

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

  • megahustler
    Finally E.T. can phone home!
    Reply
  • vittau
    Anyone else thinks touch controls are a bit overrated?
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    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. . .
    Reply
  • Parsian
    This remind me of this TV ad:
    /watch?v=m_z13XymWVU
    Reply
  • echondo
    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.
    Reply
  • vittau
    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?
    Reply
  • DRosencraft
    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?
    Reply
  • nameon
    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...
    Reply
  • adgjlsfhk
    If these become more accurate and much smaller, you could attach 1 per finger and do awesome things.
    Reply
  • digiex
    Hmm, using finger... It will be pleasurable..
    Reply