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December  1, 1999
Wearable User Interface Technologies
Replacing input with a keyboard and mouse, Olympus' new wearable user interface technologies open the way to computing anywhere and anytime
Wearable User Interface
Wearable User Interface
Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce its new wearable user interface technologies. Employing gestures and other hand movements for input, the system is an ideal match for new wearable PCs.
With the increasingly compact and powerful computers of recent years, mobile PCs are rapidly gaining ground, including handheld PCs and personal digital assistants (PDAs). Wearable PCs are the smallest and lightest of all.
This extreme miniaturization poses a major challenge for data input and display with a wearable PC. The devices must be small and light enough to be worn comfortably, while input and display should be easy. Many available solutions rely on speech recognition or a small input device to replace bulky keyboards. Visual output is handled by a display worn like eyeglasses.
Speech recognition systems are already widely used for input, but they are ineffective in a noisy environment - and an input device for a wearable PC must work anywhere. Still another current alternative is a glove interface that senses the shape of the hand and fingers. Since this system requires complicated mechanisms and processing, however, it is unsuited to an interface worn constantly.
Olympus R&D has taken another approach with sensors attached to the fingertips and back of the hand. Instead of detecting the shape of the hands, the system simplifies gestures and other hand movements, then converts them to data. Input requires only a hand movement, and a person can hold an object or take notes - a feature that goes beyond the limitations of a conventional glove interface. With further advances in performance and miniaturization, the project will lead to a PC input device so small that it can be worn like a false fingernail.
The project speaks for Olympus' continuing drive to develop technologies for the infrastructure of today's networked information society.
Key Features
Simpler, Smaller and Lighter
Simplified processing has led to an ultracompact and ultralight design. With motion detected from the back of the hand and fingertips, the streamlined configuration requires only a few sensors.
Portable, Reliable and Durable
The interface is easy to take along since no external devices are required. Made for reliable operation and extended durability, the design also eliminates mechanical parts that could wear out.
Pointing Input
The Olympus technologies open the way to pointing input based on hand position and motion measurement. This capability is suited to interpreting sign language or creating a virtual trackpad and joystick for PC operation. Input can also be customized by assigning simple gestures - say, the shapes for the traditional rock, scissors and paper game - to particular commands.
*Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. was changed to OLYMPUS CORPORATION as of October 1, 2003.
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