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Digits: Hands-Free 3-D

A new motion capture gadget from Microsoft Research provides all the control of a 3-D gaming glove. But Digits is a wrist worn sensor that leaves you barehanded and free to touch other objects. With an infrared camera, a MEMS motion sensing chip, and some software trickery it creates a 3-D model of your hand that responds to movements with fingertip precision.


The Digits prototype allows the wearer to answer a phone call with a thumbs up, change a television channel with a flick of a finger, play videos games without a controller, translate sign language into text—and maybe even touch type without a keyboard someday.


David Kim, one of the creators, sat down with IEEE Spectrum via Skype to dissect a Digits demo video. Kim is a PhD fellow at Newcastle University who works with the Interactive 3-D Technologies group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, the same lab responsible for other crazy augmented reality projects like KinEtre, HoloDesk, and Vermeer.


Digits could easily be built as a watch-sized gadget for every day wear, says Kim. It isn’t anywhere close to market, but here’s hoping.


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