Science Tuesday: Is ‘air-writing’ an alternative to texting?

By Christina Janansky, Staff Writer

A new, special glove system will allow users to write in the air. The method is appropriately named "air-writing"/PHOTO VIA discoverynews.com

A new, special glove system will allow users to write in the air. The method is appropriately named “air-writing”/PHOTO VIA discoverynews.com

As college students of the 21st century, we’re constantly typing, texting and tapping on the 15 different technological devices we all now own.

Screens are getting bigger, buttons are getting smaller and nearly every device utilizes sensitive touch-screen technology.

It’s no wonder why websites like “Damn You Auto Correct” and “F You, Auto Correct” have a plethora of new, hilarious conversations daily.

This is just one reason why computer scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany have created an alternative to texting. They hope this new method—which was reported in Discovery News on March 4—will minimize typing errors and make communication more convenient.

The new method is called “air-writing” and it is exactly what it sounds like— writing letters in the air.

Computer scientist Christoph Amma and his colleagues designed a special glove system for air-writing that contains accelerometers and gyroscopes. These sensors can recognize hand movements and detect the letters the wearer is drawing in the air.

Once the glove is done interpreting the “air-drawn” letters, it transcribes them into digital letters and wirelessly enters them into an email, text, or other app.

According to the original report, Amma’s model currently has an 11 percent error rate. However, once the system learns to recognize the user’s personal writing style, that number drops to 3 percent.

The glove system currently interprets gestures and recognizes nearly 8,000 words (and, if it’s not as inconvenient as it sounds, it could prevent a whole lot of premature arthritis).

For now though, the model is fairly large and inconvenient. But Amma is hopeful: he told Discovery News that he’s looking for more compact sensors to insert in a wristband or a smartphone.

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