A lot of you were very enthusiastic when I told you about flash drive-sized PCs that fit easily in your pocket. Well chalk another one up for miniaturization, the folks at MIT have developed a trackpad that fits on your thumbnail. It’s called a NailO.
This would actually fit on your nail like a press-on nail, yet have the functions of a trackpad on a laptop.
Actually, even more functions, because it will recognize hand gestures and allow you to control electronic devices in the same way as touching a touchscreen. Users could answer their phone and perform other tasks like texting. It could also allow you to text very subtly so that the people around wouldn’t even be aware you were doing it.(wait until teenagers get their hands on these) Another example given by the researchers is using this trackpad to scroll through a recipe on a device while cooking, with no worry about getting your hands on the keyboard or screen.
NailO users would also be able to draw shapes by tracing their finger across the surface of the thumb pad. Coming from a television background I can envision anchors using it to control teleprompters or meteorologists using it to draw on maps.
The thumb pad also recognizes gestures much like a touchscreen.
The thumbnail is the ideal place for the trackpad, since it’s hard and doesn’t have nerve endings. That means it’s not uncomfortable to wear.
The biggest challenge for these scientists was combining capacitive sensors, Bluetooth, a controller and a battery into a device that fits on your nail plus figuring out how to add an antenna that doesn’t show.
The scientists are also thinking ahead to style. They were inspired by press-on nails and nail decals and want the trackpad to be customizable with different skins depending on the mood of the wearer.
Researchers say that they don’t expect the keyboard and mouse to disappear any time soon, but that you can probably expect to see thumb controllers on the market sometime in the next five years.
* Images courtesy of MIT