Engineers from the University of Waterloo and the University of St. Andrews have designed a novel platform for word-gesture typing, making it an ideal interface device for texting in an AR or VR environment. The RotoSwype uses ring motion, and subsequently, wrist movement to draw a trace over a keyboard, which types a word. Think of it in the same fashion as the now-defunct Swype app that let you drag a finger over letters to spell words, rather than manually typing each word.
The engineering team built the RotoSwype using an MPU-6050 triple-axis accelerometer and gyro breakout board, which they mounted to an Arduino Pro Mini that’s attached to a wristband. A physical button attached to a Velcro ring is wired to the Arduino. When the button is pressed, the MPU-6050’s onboard DMP sensor fires up an algorithm that processes the accelerometer/gyroscope values to provide orientation on the keyboard app. The process is visualized using a MoGo headset, along with a Nexus smartphone.
The engineers developed the RotoSwype so that it can be used with two arm positions, with one featuring a hand raised with the palm parallel to the ground, and the other with the hand resting at the side of the body with the palm facing the thigh. During a five-day study using 16 right-handed volunteers, who typed out 20 phrases over those five days, the engineers found the participants were capable of typing 14 words per minute. Moreover, they only had uncorrected error rates near 1% using both hand positions, beating out other comparable swiping techniques.