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Micro Component Thumbnail Device

Researchers at the MIT have developed a wearable device that turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad. This would allow users to control wireless devices when their hands are full, like answering the phone while carrying grocery bags.

According to Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, an MIT graduate student in media arts and sciences and lead author on the new paper, the device was inspired by the colorful stickers that some women apply to their nails. “It’s a cosmetic product, popular in Asian countries,” says Kao, who is Taiwanese. “When I came here, I was looking for them, but I couldn’t find them, so I’d have my family mail them to me.” They can have a thin layered cover with a design on it so it looks like nailpolish.

micro component

A future commercial version of this device would have a detachable membrane on its surface. They used capacitive sensing (the same kind of sensing the iPhone’s touch screen relies on) to register touch. It can tolerate a thin, nonactive layer between the user’s finger and the underlying sensors.

The thumbnail size prototype includes capacitive sensors, a battery, and three separate chips – a microcontroller, a Bluetooth radio chip, and a capacitive-sensing. Due to its small size using micro components, the battery life isn’t very long therefore the device would need to be turned off when not in use.

Micro technology is such an amazing aspect to the electronics and medical industries, imagine not having to carry a cell phone around anymore, you could access it on your thumbnail!!!