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UB Demonstrates Fingertip Digitizer

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – Virtual computer control is just a fingertip away with new a new device developed by UB researchers.

While it's not really sci-fi, it probably sounds an awful lot like it to most of us. The fingertip digitizer, uses an accelerometer, a motion tracker and a force sensor to model the bio-mechanical properties of the finger to intuitively sense th e physical properties of an object. For those of us who are not trekkies -- what all that means is that you just wave a finger and the computer will know what to do.

Thenkurussi Kesavadas is director of UB's Virtual Reality Lab. He says the thimble-sized device goes far beyond a mouse or touch screen.

Kesavadas took a proto-type of the fingertip device to a technology conference in Boston this past weekend. Kesavadas says they expect to attract manufacturers who could bring the device to market within the next three years. He says the components used for this model make it too expensive to be commercially viable right now. But he says eventually the cost will go from a couple thousand dollars to a couple hundred. And that could put it in reach for many people.

And he says the haptic technology is one step closer to true virtual reality. Eventually, he says computers will go from reading your finger, to reading your mind.

UB has filed a provisional patent for the fingertip digitizer. In addition to the numerous advantages of the product for the disabled, researchers are also developing Touch Painting software.

Click the "listen" icon above to hear Joyce Kryszak's report now, or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.