The new Microsoft Digits, which was recently unveiled at a technology conference, allows for freehand 3-D interaction by wearing a gloveless sensor on the wrist. The integrated technology remembers and recovers certain poses of the user's hand, and since the sensor is only on the wrist, the user is free to interact freely with other devices. It can be used to play video games or as a virtual TV control and can even operate a smartphone without leaving the user's pocket.
The secret to the Digits success lies in its understanding of how the human hand moves. By being able to copy every movement from the orientation of the wrist to the angle of each joint of the finger, its 3d functionality is not tied down to any point in space. Similar products in the past have relied on the user wearing a special sensoring glove, but that is not necessary with the Microsoft prototype, which delivers the same accuracy but with more flexibility.
One of the main goals of the Digits team was to provide superior mobility. Since the Digits sensor is worn on the wrist and does not use an external infrastructure, users are not restricted to movement within a fixed space. It is small, comfortable, lightweight and needs a minimum amount of power. With its built-in technology, the 3D interaction follows the user around indoors or out.
The beauty of Digits is that it is built entirely of cheap products easily found on the open market. The basis of the system is a simple infrared camera with a laser line generator and goes on to add an infrared diffuse illuminator and an inertial measurement unit. The components integrate beautifully to interpret data and construct a fully articulated model of the hand.
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