Researchers develop a bracelet that tracks the hand in 3D with thermal sensors

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As virtual reality and augmented reality progress steadily in terms of visual fidelity and headset comfort, researchers continue to work on solutions that will feel more natural than holding a controller.
Researchers at Cornell and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have designed a wrist-mounted device that follows continuously the entire human hand in 3D. The bracelet, called FingerTrak, can detect and 3D translate the many positions of the human hand. 20 positions finger joints are already recognized.

Credit: Cornell University

The prowess is achieved using three or four miniature thermal cameras that read the contours of the wrist. According to the researchers, the device could be used in sign language translation, virtual reality, mobile health, human-robot interaction and other fields.

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Interestingly, the researchers suggest that the contours of the wrist are ” sufficient to accurately predict the posture of the hand as a whole“. This allows the entire detection system to be placed on the wrist, rather than needing gloves, rings or other devices.

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Wrist-mounted cameras could complete cameras that we find in helmets like theOculus Quest. These monitor the position of the hands and fingers from the user’s head. In prototype form, FingerTrak is already small enough. Nonetheless, this one could easily get even smaller with further engineering. It is mainly based on tiny thermal cameras with very low resolution (32 x 24 pixels), arranged around the bracelet. The prototype is also based on a Raspberry Pi board, a mini computer.

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It may be years before the team that created FingerTrak find a way to bring their invention to market. However, what is promising here is that the device uses affordable components and that he is already very precise.

Source : ACM Digital Library

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