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Keyboard Not Necessary With Airwriting

airwriting systemA lab in Germany has developed an airwriting device that recognizes words and creates text based on the movement of the wearer's hand.

Yep, just jot down your thoughts in the air in front of you, and the machine types it out.

Airwriting was created in the Cognitive Systems Lab of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. The device started out as a glove and has now been refined down to a small bracelet.

The airwriting device recognizes 8,000 printed words and is 97 percent accurate once it adapts to individual users, according to the school.

The system, developed by doctoral student Christoph Amma, is impressive enough that Google pitched in with a research grant of US$81,000.

According to Australia's The Age:

Currently the system processes movements at approximately .83 seconds per character, but faster processing and smaller devices promise performance gains, the researchers said.

It's conceivable Airwriting could be packed into a smart watch or ring, the vocabulary greatly expanded by accessing machine learning technologies that access and process language remotely, in the cloud.

airwriting sensorThe Airwriting device is designed to respond to only those movements specifically related to writing.

“All movements that are not similar to writing, such as cooking, doing laundry, waving to someone, are ignored," Amma explained in a written statement. "The system runs in the background without interpreting every movement as computer input."

While the Airwriting system could have countless applications, one interesting possibility would be in helping children to read.

A theory in education is that children add certain words to their vocabularies by learning to recognize them by sight, rather than by puzzling them out phonetically. And one way they learn to recognize "sight words" is by practicing writing them in the air.

A system that could recognize a word and display it as the child writes it could help to reinforce the child's recognition of that word. Especially if the system were paired with a text-to-speech program that could say the word once the child has written it.

So what other possibilities do you see for the Airwriting system?

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