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Fingertip Digitizer maps tactile experiences for a PC

A group of scientists at the University of Buffalo have developed a device called the Fingertip Digitizer, which can more accurately simulate the tactile world than ever before.

Just slip the device over one of your fingers (the index one, for example). Then, move about and wait to see what you feel—and what the computer shows. The PC will incorporate your basic hand movements into a greater understanding of how we humans perceive—and touch—the world.

The basic idea is to fill in the gap between common hand gestures like pointing and wagging the finger and the actions of a computer. Grasp a ball, for example, and you can transmit to the computer not only the shape and size of the ball but also how it feels in your hand. (A medical application of this idea would be to feel a gland or tumor.)

The Fingertip Digitizer promises to have more entertaining uses as well, such as a high-end substitute for a mouse or a joystick. A commercial version is expected within three years.

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