The Magic Finger adds touch input to everything

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Touchscreens have dramatically changed the way we use our gadgets—from smartphones to tablets to even our desktop computers. Now researchers want to change things again by giving you touch controls using any sort of surface. How? By letting you give your gadgets the finger.

No, not that finger.

The Magic Finger, as spotted by Gizmodo, is a new type of finger-mounted optical pointing device developed by Autodesk Research, the University of Alberta, and the University of Toronto. The finger-mounted contraption uses an optical flow sensor, the same sensor your optical mouse uses, to send swipe commands to your mobile device without having to take it out of your pocket.

Not only can it send commands with the swipe, the Magic Finger can actually tell what sort of surface you're using it on thanks to a micro RGB camera. The scientists say that their device can detect 22 textures with an accuracy rate of 98.8 percent.

With this functionality, you could program the Magic Finger to trigger additional commands, such as prompting a call over your Star Trek badge (you know, for Halloween or whatever) or pay for things with Google Wallet by scanning a QR code.

We’ve seen a few alternative touch devices, such as Leap Motion and Disney’s Touché, that promise to move touch input away from the screen. The Magic Finger, however, is the first device we could imagine using on the go instead of at home on a desk.

According to Discovery , the researchers want to take the technology beyond computers and phones by integrating it with Google Glass as an input system. Imagine: In the near future we could all be using heads-up displays that we control by swiping all over ourselves…

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This story, "The Magic Finger adds touch input to everything" was originally published by TechHive.

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