Researchers at the University of Washington have taken wearable technology to another level with a smart wearable device called AuraRing, a ring and wristband combination that can detect the precise location of someone’s index finger and continuously track hand movements. It is a wearable 5-DoF electromagnetic tracker with a resolution of 0.1 mm and dynamic accuracy of 4.4mm.
The index finger-sized ring consists of a coil of wire wrapped 800 times around a 3D printed loop as shown below. It uses a tiny battery to generate an oscillating magnetic field with only 2.3 milliwatts of power. The wristband then uses three sensor coils to determine the ring’s five degree of freedom (DoF) orientation at any point in time.
With AuraRing, it is easy to detect taps, flicks or even a small pinch versus a big pinch. This gives you added interaction space. For example, if the user writes ‘hello,’ he/she could use a flick or a pinch to send that data or in Mario-like games, a pinch could make the character jump and a flick could make them super jump.
The continuous tracking enables AuraRing to pick up handwriting for short responses to text messages or enable someone to have a virtual reality avatar hand that mimics what they’re doing with their actual hand. In comparison to other smart rings, AuraRing consumes only 2.3 milliwatts of power, which produces an oscillating magnetic field that the wristband (shown below) can constantly sense. AuraRing uses magnetic fields to enable users to send text messages, interact with device UIs, and play games with even a visually obscured finger.
As AuraRing continuously monitors hand movements and not just gestures, it provides a rich set of inputs that multiple industries like the health sector could take advantage of. The ring and wristband can detect the onset of Parkinson’s disease by tracking subtle hand tremors or help with stroke rehabilitation by providing feedback on hand movement exercises.
Besides, AuraRing could also be used as a generic tracking platform for handheld objects. For example, by putting a coil around a stencil or pen, the object could be made trackable with respect to the wrist. Using minimal, low-power electronics on the ring, AuraRing can operate for about a day on self-contained batteries. You can check out the video below which explains the working of AuraRing.