The QWERTY computer keyboard has proved to be a versatile design over the years, and whether you’re typing on an iPhone screen, or the chiclet keys prevalent on modern laptops, the experience is largely the same. However, typical keyboards aren’t generally all that easy to use one-handed or while walking, for example. For those kind of situations you may be better served with a glove called Gauntlet, which features a built-in one handed keyboard.
Gauntlet, or the Generally Accessible Universal Nomadic Tactile Low-power Electronic Typist, is a smart glove device which sports built-in wireless keyboard functionality. When designing Gauntlet, University of Alabama researchers led by Jiake Liu worked out the most commonly used letters in the English alphabet, and consigned the easiest and most natural hand movements to these letters. Lesser used letters and functions were given more complicated gestures.
“It’s basically a keyboard on your hand,” explained Lui. “You, by tapping your thumb on each segment of your fingers, type to the screen basically. And you can do a swiping gesture that would erase it.”
As the user “types,” signals are carried by conductive thread to a small printed circuit board (PCB), around the size of a matchbox. From the PCB, the relevant keyboard data is transmitted via Bluetooth to a computer, tablet, cellphone, or any other compatible device.
The potential utility of Gauntlet for disabled users is obvious, but Lui and his team also believe it could be put to good use in areas as varied as the military, gaming, and even making music, with the use of a synthesizer.
In order to bring a finished product to market, the University of Alabama researchers are currently seeking a patent.