NailO Thumb-Mounted Mouse Needs John Varley's Help

You've probably heard about the cool thumbnail-mounted mouse from MIT; if not, see the following video.

(NailO input device video)

As the site for a wearable input device, however, the thumbnail has other advantages: It’s a hard surface with no nerve endings, so a device affixed to it wouldn’t impair movement or cause discomfort. And it’s easily accessed by the other fingers — even when the user is holding something in his or her hand...

For their initial prototype, the researchers built their sensors by printing copper electrodes on sheets of flexible polyester, which allowed them to experiment with a range of different electrode layouts. But in ongoing experiments, they’re using off-the-shelf sheets of electrodes like those found in some track pads.

“Is it the case that we’ll all be walking around with digital fingernails in five years’ time?” Hodges asks. “Maybe it is. Most likely, we’ll have a little ecosystem of these input devices..."

I realized that NailO would go perfectly with two of John Varley's best ideas from his 1992 novel Steel Beach. First, you need a keyboard:

Call me old-fashioned. I'm the only reporter I know who still uses his handwriter except to take notes…I snapped the fingers of my left hand… Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand. By pressing the dots in different combinations with my fingertips I was able to write the story...
(Learn more about handwriter)

And then, of course, a display:

By pressing the dots in different combinations with my fingertips I was able to write the story in shorthand, and watch the loops and lines scrawl themselves on a strip of readout skin on my wrist...
(Learn more about readout skin)

Via MIT.

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