A high-tech glove made by US and Italian engineers can translate hand gestures to commands for a computer, and use those same finger movements to power itself. Electronics sewn into the fabric generate electricity when they are bent or flexed.
Materials engineers also envision that these “piezoelectric” threads, woven into clothes, could keep the body cool or warm or measure vital signs, by harvesting power from movement.
The development team calls the glove GoldFinger. It’s no reference to the villain in the 1964 James Bond flick; rather, they draw a comparison to the tech tools that Tom Cruise and his costars used in the sci-fi hit “Minority Report,” in which Cruise and co-stars navigate through data on computer terminals simply by swiping the air with gloved hands.
The researchers who made the glove include MIT mechanical engineering professor Sang-Gook Kim and siblings Daniele and Giorgio De Pasquale from Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy.
The group presented its work at the PowerMEMS conference in Boston this month, demonstrating that the glove did in fact generate power that topped off the battery in the device. These movements alone wouldn’t keep the device running; it’s a first demonstration of a way to extend the battery life incrementally. The battery in the prototype is in a package the size of a large postage stamp and can currently power the glove for 104 hours.
Following mouse clicks and finger taps on a screen, voice recognition, and gestures from your hand (similar to commands to the Xbox and Kinect gaming consoles) are the next frontier in engaging with your devices. The De Pasquales and Kim say their design is unique in generating its own power.
Nidhi Subbaraman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.