Belt is an unobtrusive touch input device for head-worn displays.
As the wearable market continue to mature, Makers are coming up with some pretty slick ways to use body-adorned items as interfaces for their mobile devices — whether that’s stroking one’s own hair to discreetly make a phone call or affixing stickers to one’s skin to control their music player. And while Google Glass has yet to experience mainstream popularity, it’s only a matter of time before the technology behind it will be enhanced to the point where it can eventually be integrated into a pair of everyday glasses. Until then, however, a group of researchers from Ulm University in Germany have come up with an alternative solution: your belt.
The aptly-dubbed Belt not only can hold up your trousers, but can enable a user to command their wearable display device as well. The accessory is covered in punk-like, touch-sensitive metal studs, which allow a wearer to slide their thumb across its surface to scroll down lists, tap to make selections, or use other gestures to control the wearable device’s UI — all without ever having to touch the side of their head. What’s more, shortcuts to applications be implemented anywhere along the outside of the belt, whether that means accessing Facebook just above the left-hand pocket or opening up emails right above the rear.
Ultimately, wearers can decide as to how much of the belt they would like to use as a touch-sensitive controller. What’s more, the software can be made intelligent enough to distinguish between an accidental stroke of an arm and an actual gesture, as well as ignore any unwanted activity.
The Belt itself is equipped with an Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega328), a Bluetooth Low Energy module, four SparkFun capacitive touch sensor breakout boards, and a battery to power it up.
“In a qualltative user study with 14 participants, we found out that for short interactions (two-four seconds), most of the surface area is considered as appropriate input space, while for longer interactions (up to 10 seconds), the front areas above the trouser pockets are preferred,” the team writes.
Intrigued? Check out the project’s entire paper here, or watch it in action below.