NailO Is A Nail Sized Track Pad

The media lab at MIT is busy producing a mini-trackpad configurable with your devices to ease working in tight handed (literally!) situations. This gadget is smaller than a U.S. coin, wearable on the thumbnail, and coined NailO.

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NailO can be functioned with the index finger of the same hand it is worn on. Swooshing on its surface moves the cursor on a paired computer, or a smart device to control your screen without extending your hand. “It’s very unobtrusive,” explains Cindy Hsin-Liu Kao, an MIT graduate student in media arts and sciences, who is the lead author on the research paper. ”When I put this on, it becomes part of my body.”

It isn’t an invention for the lazy-bums. NailO has been designed to make following of instructions (recipes, fixtures, how-tos etc) easier. In these situations, it can get pretty frustrating to put the tools down just to scroll over to the next page. NailO (1)

NailO consists of capacitative sensors, micro-controllers and a capacitive-sensing chip to rescue your tasks; fitted with a bluetooth radio chip, all covered under the capacitative trackpad. The team is currently in search of a single chip that could act as a microcontroller-bluetooth-sensor in one, and a half millimeter thick battery to further compact the design and increase its efficiency, explains Artem Dementyev, a graduate student in media arts and sciences and one of the developers.

NailO is powered up by an initial extended touch of the finger, and functions as a touchpad sensing the finger’s motion. To select something, pressing the finger down does the magic.

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What the ladies would love are the detachable decorative top membranes in various nail art options. These designs can match your outfit and transform NailO into a chic wearable. Infact, traditional asian nail art stickers are the original inspiration behind NailO, explains Kao, who used to order these from her hometown when she moved to U.S.

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As the product is still under research, NailO’s design may be extended to discreetly control smartphones in urgency, in a meeting for example. More details will be revealed at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Seoul, South Korea, set to take place next week, where the team will present their paper.

The sad part is though, NailO could take three years to hit the shelves. Till then, may be we would have to deal with obsolescence (already!) to sweep our screens.

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