Augmented Reality, Wrapped Around Your Finger

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= = = MIT Technology Review = = =

Augmented Reality, Wrapped Around Your Finger

A camera-equipped ring could help the visually impaired identify objects and read text.

By Rachel Metz

Friday, August 10, 2012

Normally, we point at things to specify, or to emphasize, what we’re talking about. But a project from several MIT researchers aims
to make pointing a way to learn more about the world around you-with a special ring on your index finger and a smartphone in your
pocket.

Called EyeRing, the finger-worn device allows you to point at an object, take a photo, and hear feedback about what it is you just
focused on. The project is the brainchild of Pattie Maes, a professor in MIT’s Media Lab who studies interfaces that let us interact
with digital information in novel, intuitive ways. Initially conceived as a potential aid for the visually impaired, the EyeRing
could also work as a navigation or translation aid, or help children learn to read, say the researchers involved. The group is
interested in eventually turning it into a commercial product.

As smartphones become increasingly common, the use of augmented reality-the blending of digital content with the real world-has also
risen, mainly in the form of apps that harness the phone’s camera and sensors and use its screen as a window to a more data-rich
world (see “Augmented Reality Is Finally Getting Real”).

The EyeRing takes this a step further by offering aural feedback via a wearable device. And while it’s still just a research
project, some experts believe wearable electronics will eventually become common-an idea Google recently put in the spotlight by
confirming it’s working on glasses that can show the wearer maps, messages, and more (see “You Will Want Google Goggles”).

The EyeRing, which is currently printed with plastic using a 3-D printer, includes a tiny camera, a processor, and Bluetooth
connectivity. To use it, you double-click a little button on its side and speak a command to determine the ring’s function (it can
currently be set to identify currency, text, prices on price tags, and colors). Point at whatever you’d like more information
about-a shirt on a store rack, for instance-and click the button to snap a photo. The picture is sent via Bluetooth to your
smartphone, where an app uses computer-vision algorithms to process the image and then announce out loud what it sees (“green,” for
example, denoting the color of the shirt). The results are also shown on the smartphone’s screen.

.. .. read the rest of the story at MIT’s site at

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/428773

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