Geekspeak: October 1, 2001

Data Glove Turns Gestures Into Commands

In what was otherwise an unfortunate cinematic accident, the 1995 movie "Johnny Mnemonic" shows some pretty cool scenes of Keanu Reeves using his hands to manipulate data.

Three students at the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Center, University of California, Berkeley (, have put some fact to that fiction by building a motion-sensing glove that can transmit hand gestures to a PC. Accelerometers are on each fingertip, and the glove communicates with a computer using a serial port link. Software for the glove can be trained to recognize hand gestures, and the glove can be used like a mouse—when you drop a finger, it acts as a mouse click.

Within three years, this group hopes to build sensors not bigger than 1mm on a side that will be glued to each fingernail. The sensors will detect motion and send that data wirelessly back to your PC. Imagine being able to type or mouse any time just by moving your fingers in the air ...