Technology 3 min read

Smart Ring Tracks Finger Location for Better Hand Motion Monitoring

Screengrab from Farshid Salemi Parizi YouTube Channel

Screengrab from Farshid Salemi Parizi YouTube Channel

Meet AuraRing, a finger-tracking smart ring that's been developed to improve hand motion detection for next-generation AR/VR.

Researchers have created a smart ring and wristband combination to track your finger’s location.

Smart technologies are smaller than ever before.

Using a smart ring may be considered overkill, especially with the abundance of smartphones, smartwatches, and even wrist phones. But the researchers at the University of Washington would disagree.

We’re thinking about the next generation of computing platforms,” said co-lead author Eric Whitmire. “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.”

So, Whitmire and colleagues created a tech that can detect the precise location of the wearer’s index finger and continuously track hand movement. They named the invention AuraRing.

The researchers described how they created the technology in their paper in journal ACM.

Creating a Smart Ring For Tracking Finger’s Location

To create AuraRing, the team wrapped a coil wire 800 times around a 3D-printed ring.

Then, a current runs through the wire to generate magnetic fields for three sensors on a wristband to pick up.  These magnetic fields represent specific values that identify the exact position of the ring in space. And using this information, researchers can determine where the user’s finger is located.

Co-lead author of the study and doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering, Farshid Salemi Parizi explained:

“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.”

Unlike other smart rings, AuraRing is more power-efficient, says the researcher. It only consumes about 2.3 milliwatts of power, which produces an oscillating magnetic field for continuous tracking.

As you can imagine, this feature offers tons of applications.

The Potential Applications of AuraRing

Thanks to the continuous tracking feature, AuraRing users can create written responses to text messages. Also, you could have a virtual reality avatar that mimics what you’re doing with your hands.

Since AuraRing uses magnetic fields, it doesn’t have to be in sight to work. That means users can take advantage of it in areas where they can’t reach their phones.

But the application extends beyond games and smartphones.

According to senior author Shwetak Patel, the rich sets of input from the device could be useful in various industries.

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 was funded by UW Reality Lab, Facebook, Google, and Futurewei.

Read More: Hand Motion-Sensing Upgrade Make Smartest Wearables Ever

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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