Tiny trackpad uses your thumbnail to navigate devices

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Mariella Moon
April 18th, 2015
In this article: mit, trackpad
Tiny trackpad uses your thumbnail to navigate devices

Several companies are working on eye-tracking tech as a way to navigate devices. A team of MIT researchers, however, have their eyes set on another body part: the thumbnail. Graduate students Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao and Artem Dementyev are developing a tiny trackpad that fits over your thumbnail. They're calling it NailO, and it was inspired by colorful nail stickers popular in Kao's native Taiwan and many other Asian countries. The duo envisions NailO to be used in situations where both your hands are occupied -- for instance, you can use it to scroll down a website page to check recipes while cooking. They also think it could be used to control other wearables, such as smart jewelry.

Kao and Dementyev have already managed to build a prototype with swappable membranes on top, so you can change designs whenever you want. Like other inventors, though, they're working to improve the technology further. The duo recently found a supplier that makes batteries only half a millimeter thin and might incorporate those into the device. Plus, they're looking for a multi-purpose chip that works as a microcontroller, a radio and a capacitive sensor, all of which are needed for Nail-O to work properly. Since that won't happen anytime soon, make sure to watch the video below to see how the tiny thumbnail trackpad works.

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