About this project
- Keyglove pre-order is now $200
- Prototype-friendly kit pre-order is now $300
- Keyglove + matching handicapped/disabled donation is now $400
Check out the reward info on the right for details. The more expensive duplicate rewards will be removed as soon as possible. They are currently still there, so please be sure to choose the less expensive ones! Thanks for all of the feedback so far!
What's a Keyglove?
The Keyglove is an open-source portable Arduino/AVR-powered glove that uses touch combinations (for keys) and an accelerometer (for the mouse) to generate keyboard and mouse control codes using only one hand. Once learned, the glove can easily be used without looking, making it perfect for embedded/wearable environments. The glove is thin and light, built to allow other activities (such as writing) without being in the way. It also holds much promise for physically handicapped or disabled users who have the use of only one hand. Very little motion is required to use the Keyglove, and it can be used with your hand on a desk, in your lap, or with no surface at all, in any orientation.
Be sure to watch the most recent demo video (4/6/2011) on Vimeo to see the latest prototype in action! For more project details, history, status, and news updates so far, please visit keyglove.net.
What's It Good For?
I'll be the first to admit that the Keyglove probably won't replace QWERTY keyboards for desktops or laptops, at least not anytime soon. For those types of devices, a full keyboard and regular mouse make perfect sense, and typical users won't see a benefit to a glove-based input device. Here's where the Keyglove can really shine:
- Wearable computing: This technology hasn't taken off yet because the optics aren't economical enough, but it's definitely coming! If your display was a translucent projection in your glasses, and your computer was in your pocket, wouldn't you want a self-contained wireless input device that you didn't have to hold or look at?
- Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets: Some people can get by with miniaturized QWERTY hardware or on-screen keyboards—in fact, some people can use them with amazing dexterity and accuracy. Others aren't so devoted to learning the skill. The Keyglove can act as a wireless input device for most smartphones and tablets, negating the need to use the other, sometimes difficult input options.
- 3D spatial or VR interfacing: Because the Keyglove has motion-sensing capabilities, it can be used where special 3D control is necessary or helpful.
- Specialized device control in extreme or industrial situations: The Keyglove can be a simple, no-eyes-required input device that is easy to keep track of (since you'd be wearing it!) and hard to lose, perfect for high-activity or dangerous areas where a regular keyboard and mouse wouldn't survive intact for long.
- Handicapped, disabled, or limited-mobility users: Some people only have the use of one of their hands, or they can't manage the motions necessary for typing on a regular keyboard or using a regular mouse. The Keyglove's design is such that it can overcome many of these problems and give some computer control back to people who have lost it.
So, How Does It Work?
The basic concept of the Keyglove is to generate input signals by touching unique combinations of conductive sensors together. These sensors are mounted on the fingers and palm of the glove in strategic places to allow for the greatest possible number of combinations. Some of these combinations are more physically difficult than others, and so these are intended to be used much less frequently or even not at all. The glove also has an accelerometer on the back, which will be used (where applicable) to control mouse movements. Although this capability is still under development, the concept is to have a particular “mouse-on” touch combination, which will then start watching the multi-axis tilt or motion of your hand (relative from the position at which it was enabled) and then translate that into mouse cursor movements. Mouse clicks will be accomplished by other unique touch combinations.
Using simple one-to-one sensor combinations (made by touching one sensor to only one other sensor), there are 60 ergonomically easy possibilities. Examples of such combinations are the thumb tip to each of the finger tips, and the thumb tip to each middle and lower finger segment.
Just to clarify about the diagram above: the sensor labels don’t represent the actual letters (or numbers) that would be typed by using each sensor. They are merely there for programmatic and visual reference. Since keys are “pressed” by touching multiple sensors together, I needed some way to define which sensor is which. For example, the top thumb pad is “Y” and the index fingertip pad is “A”. The sensor combination “AY” indicates touching those two sensors together. “ADY” would be the thumb pad touching both the index and middle tip pads.
For a page that contains a full table of all of these base combinations, along with diagrams and pictures of my hand in each combination, visit the currently very basic Training page. This page will become more complete in the future.
You will be able to use software to customize exactly what you want each combination to represent, according to your preference. The easiest combination, “AY”, might be used to type the letter “e” for example, since it is so common.
Once you allow even just two-to-one combinations as well, the number of possibilities skyrockets. There are many hundreds of unique combinations. Obviously not all of these should necessarily be used, but it does allow for a great deal of flexibility. The 34 sensors are placed in the following locations:
- 3 on the front of each finger (12 total)
- 3 on the thumb side of each finger (12 total)
- 1 on the nail of each finger (4 total)
- 1 on the top, middle, and bottom of the palm (3 total)
- 2 on the front of the thumb
- 1 on the nail of the thumb
What About Mistakes and Sensitivity?
Since some sensors will be unintentionally connected while executing some combinations, the software will take care of precedence settings to control which connections are ignored under certain circumstances. Additionally, a sensitivity threshold can be adjusted to control how long the sensors must be touched together to be considered intentional. Depending on your dexterity and desired speed, this might be anything from a few milliseconds to a whole second.
Technically, there are enough combinations to have designated modifier positions (for Shift, Control, and Alt). Whether these are ergonomically feasible enough to allow simultaneous presses of the other desired keys remains to be seen (e.g. Shift+A, Shift+4, etc.). The controller software will have a “modifier-lock” function which will at least be optional for those who wish to use it instead of the simultaneous held combinations.
Additionally, for mouse control, I have gone to great lengths to provide multiple techniques described in this Keyglove blog post that will allow for intuitive motion control and the best combination of sensitivity and smoothness. There is still room for improvement in this regard for sure, but I have a good foundation to work from.
Okay, Why Kickstarter?
Working on the Keyglove project is tremendously energizing for me, because I love programming, I love electronics, and the Arduino platform that got me started on this is a perfect bridge between the two. However, as much fun as it is to spend money on stuff you enjoy, the fact is that I don't have an unlimited supply, and it's getting to be a bit restrictive.
So far, I've spent over $7k on a whole lot of prototype hardware and some business research over the past seven months. I can't afford to continue to self-finance this project and make fast headway on it, as much as I would like to. Without any help, it won't strictly be impossible, but it will be maddeningly slow, and I'll undoubtedly have to pass by some good opportunities. My desire is to use Kickstarter to connect to a very large community, generate the funding necessary to speed things up without getting up to my eyeballs in debt, and make this design into a reality—and, of course, give you all something in return as a way of saying "thank you" for helping the project get off the ground.
By the way, if you can think of something you'd like to see as a reward--something I haven't thought of that might entice you to back the project--then by all means, please let me know! I want to make this worthwhile for all of us.
Awesome! What Happens to the Money?
Aha! Very astute question, and I'd think you were crazy not to ask it.
In short, here is what I have already created or obtained:
- A very promising idea
- A strong background in (and love of) programming
- A love of open source
- A desire to finish the Keyglove prototype and get it manufactured and released as open source hardware
...and more concretely...
- A bunch of working and well-documented source code
- A few Arduino/AVR prototype boards
- Many motion sensor components of different types
- Many tested (and discarded) prototype gloves
- Many tested (and failed) sensor materials
- Some successful proof-of-concept experiments (with videos)
- One marginally working prototype Keyglove, in a constant state of flux
And here is what I know I still need at some point:
- A solid implementation of the small touch sensors
- More prototype-friendly Bluetooth modules for testing and development
- A more rugged glove (custom or otherwise) for prolonged use and durability
- Battery and charger prototype components and tests
- Customized modular PCB design and fabrication for reduced complexity
- Negotiations with design and manufacturing companies to get the Keyglove produced once the design is complete
This list obviously doesn't include things that I don't know that I need yet, and those things seem to pop up frequently. The prototype parts add up very quickly—electronic convenience and innovation has a cost—and that last item on the list (negotiations) will be significant. I won't pretend to have all the business expertise I need to make all of this happen, and I know that expertise in others doesn't come cheaply.
Essentially, I need to have financial resources handy to easily obtain the materials and business resources necessary to push the Keyglove from the half-built idea that it is into a finished product.
So there you have it. I appreciate any backing you can provide, and whether or not you are interested enough or able to pledge anything, I also tremendously appreciate any word-of-mouth sharing you might want to do. If the Keyglove looks like a cool project, please tell your friends!
...and above all:
Thanks to Kickstarter and to all of you for a great opportunity!
Again, for more project details, history, status, and news updates so far, please be sure to check out keyglove.net.
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