Deja News Toolbar
Home Communities My Deja News Power Search Post


message/thread Thread
Message 1 of 3 for search thumbcode
return to search results
computer sign language 
Author:   Dan Goodman <>
Date:   1999/02/24
  sponsored by:
more headers author posting history
post reply next

     Contact: Claire Bowles
     [2]New Scientist
     A New Kind Of Sign Language Could Liberate Us From Our Desks 
     IF YOU see someone making strange twitching movements with a gloved
     hand, don't worry about their mental health. They are probably
     writing a blockbuster novel on their wearable computer.
     There are a number of computers designed for use on the move. But
     without a normal keyboard, getting data into these "wearables" is a
     problem. The answer could be a new one-handed sign language,
     according to its inventor at Stanford University in California.
     Vaughan Pratt, who leads the research on wearable computers at
     Stanford, has developed a sign language that he calls thumbcode. By
     touching your thumb against the tip, middle or base of each finger,
     and by grouping your fingers together in different ways, the
     language gives 96 different combinations, which represent upper and
     lowercase letters, numbers and other characters.
     Thumbcode is said to be device independent, meaning that the hand
     positions are the same whatever kind of device is reading them.
     Pratt is developing a glove which contains sensors that can detect
     each of the positions. This means you could write documents and
     e-mails as you walk down a street, for example. But the language
     could also be used with normal computers. Here there would be no
     need to use a glove, he says. A video camera and image recognition
     software could work out what characters your fingers are forming.
     "The training time is a lot less than for learning Morse code.
     Since it's easy to learn the characters, that really overcomes the
     biggest obstacle. You can expect to get about 30 words per minute,"
     says Pratt. That compares favourably to the 60 words per minute
     most touch typists achieve.
     Once people learn to use a gloved system, they like it, says Bob
     Rosenberg, who studied gloved data input devices while at
     University College London. "People like the fact that they can type
     in a variety of positions," he says.
     One-handed input devices based on typing date back to the creation
     of the computer mouse, when it was thought that people might type
     with one hand and control the mouse with the other. That didn't
     happen, but several "chording keyboards"-on which characters are
     formed by pressing combinations of keys, just like musical
     chords-have been developed. However, these have caught on only in
     specialised wearable computing applications, such as underwater
     (see Technology, 30 October 1993, p 20) or military systems.
     Pratt says he is exploring other possibilities as well, including
     handwriting and voice recognition programs. But Pratt says both
     technologies are slow and prone to errors, and need a lot of
     improvement. IBM has already introduced a wearable computer that
     uses a voice recognition system. And 3Com's PalmPilot, a popular
     handheld organiser, uses a handwriting recognition program based on
     simplified letters.
     Author: Kurt Kleiner
     New Scientist issue 27 Feb 99
     US CONTACT - Barbara Thurlow, New Scientist Washington office:
     Tel: 202-452-1178 or email [3]

Dan Goodman
Whatever you wish for me, may you have twice as much.

view for bookmarking
text only
mail this message to a friend post reply     << prev · next >>
subscribe to

Yellow Pages ·  Great Deals at uBid! ·  Shopping ·  Free Stuff  ·  5¢ long distance
AutoConnect ·  Trade with Datek  ·  Auctions & Classifieds  ·  GET IT NOW @ NECX
Home  ·  Communities  ·  My Deja News  ·  Power Search  ·  Post

About Deja News  ·  Ad Info  ·  Our Advertisers

Copyright © 1995-99 Deja News, Inc. All rights reserved.
Conditions of use  ·  Site privacy statement reviewed by TRUSTe