Thumbs Up On This Bluetooth Thumbnail Trackpad

Posted on September 29, 2015 by Nanci Taplett

We love keeping tabs on the innovative ways that Bluetooth® technology is blending with sportswear and fashion pieces to create an exciting new world of wearable technology. But once in a while a device comes along that goes a step beyond, offering us a tantalizing glimpse into a whole new future of wearables.

Screen Shot 09-14-15 at 11.07 AMThat’s the case with NailO, a recent prototype developed by MIT students that transforms your fingernail into a wireless mouse. The device resembles a slightly oversized artificial nail that mounts easily on a user’s thumbnail. Once connected to any Bluetooth device, users can simply tap or swipe their index finger over NailO’s touchpad shell to remotely control a PC, smartphone or tablet quickly and unobtrusively.

The possibilities are fascinating. Subtly send an important text in a meeting. Swipe through pages of online instructions while your hands are full. Control any Bluetooth enabled device just by touching finger to thumbnail.

Three chips—a Bluetooth radio chip, a microcontroller, and a capacitive-sensing chip—along with a battery and capacitive sensors, make up the NailO, topped with decorative nail art that users can swap out.

“It’s very unobtrusive,” says researcher Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, an MIT grad student in media arts and sciences, who got the idea from nail art, popular in her home country of Taiwan. “When I put this on, it becomes part of my body. I have the power to take it off, so it still gives you control over it. But it allows this very close connection to your body.”

Her last point hits the nail (sorry, we couldn’t resist) on the head. Regardless of whether NailO in particular ever hits the market, it does show us that the future of wearables is trending toward sleeker, more fashion-forward devices designed to seamlessly integrate with your body, your lifestyle, and your tastes.

We give this one a hearty thumbs-up.

Visit MIT's news page to learn more.

nanci taplett

Nanci Taplett

Nanci loves watching the world embrace innovation and changing technology.

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