At Interaction 2011, there was a demonstration of a finger-language interface, which is being developed by a group from Osaka University and Shinshu University.
With this interface, text is entered by finger gestures using a glove. The glove has permanent magnets on each fingertip, and the changes in magnetic field caused by finger gestures are measured by magnetic sensors on the glove.
"The glove has a photoreflector, which produces infrared light. By placing your hand or body near it, you can enter finger language."
"For people who use sign language, I think it may be easier to enter their sign language as text. We started this research because we thought that, if e-mail on a mobile phone could be written directly through finger language, rather than pressing buttons, the finger language could also be translated directly."
A feature of Fingual is that the magnetic field for each letter shape is used as a data set, and by capturing this data in advance for each user, text recognition can be done without complicated calculations such as inverse problems.
"We've only tested this system indoors, but if you use a data set you've prepared yourself, you can get a recognition rate of over 90%. With data prepared by other people, the recognition rate is currently 80-90%. If you create the data set well, you get high recognition, but if you're not careful, the recognition rate is lower."
"Currently, we're using finger language to output text only. But sound could be output as well, and if the output sound is varied with the shape of the hand, we think this system could be used as a musical instrument as well."