Scientists Develop a Ring Which Can Control Other Technology

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 13:30

Researchers at the University of Washington have created a ring and wristband combination, AuraRing, which allows someone to use simple finger gestures to control other technology.

According to the Science Daily report, researchers’ new ring, AuraRing, can detect the precise location of someone’s index finger and continuously track hand movements.

The ring emits a signal that can be picked up on the wristband, which can then identify the position and orientation of the ring — and the finger it’s attached to.

"We're thinking about the next generation of computing platforms," said co-lead author Eric Whitmire, who completed this research as a doctoral student at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. "We wanted a tool that captures the fine-grain manipulation we do with our fingers -- not just a gesture or where your finger's pointed, but something that can track your finger completely."

AuraRing is composed of a coil of wire wrapped 800 times around a 3D-printed ring. A current running through the wire generates a magnetic field, which is picked up by three sensors on the wristband. Based on what values the sensors detect, the researchers can continuously identify the exact position of the ring in space. From there, they can determine where the user's finger is located.

"To have continuous tracking in other smart rings you'd have to stream all the data using wireless communication. That part consumes a lot of power, which is why a lot of smart rings only detect gestures and send those specific commands," said co-lead author Farshid Salemi Parizi, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering.

"But AuraRing's ring consumes only 2.3 milliwatts of power, which produces an oscillating magnetic field that the wristband can constantly sense. In this way, there's no need for any communication from the ring to the wristband."

"We can also easily detect taps, flicks or even a small pinch versus a big pinch," Salemi Parizi said. "This gives you added interaction space. For example, if you write 'hello,' you could use a flick or a pinch to send that data. Or on a Mario-like game, a pinch could make the character jump, but a flick could make them super jump."

"Because AuraRing continuously monitors hand movements and not just gestures, it provides a rich set of inputs that multiple industries could take advantage of," said senior author Shwetak Patel, a professor in both the Allen School and the electrical and computer engineering department. "For example, AuraRing could detect the onset of Parkinson's disease by tracking subtle hand tremors or help with stroke rehabilitation by providing feedback on hand movement exercises."

The research team published these results Dec. 11 in Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies.

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