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Thumb Typing

As computers blend into our environment and even our clothing, entering data into them gets tricky. Carsten Mehring, a mechanical engineer at the University of California, Irvine, has come up with a device that turns your hands into a qwerty-style keyboard. Mehring’s device uses six conductive contacts on each thumb-three on the front and three on the back-to represent a keyboard’s three lettered rows. Contacts on the tips of the remaining eight fingers represent its columns. Touching the right index finger to the middle contact on the front of the right thumb, for instance, generates a j. The top contact on the thumb yields a u, while the middle contact on the back of the thumb would produce an h. Mehring says the similarity to typing makes his input device easier to master than others that require an entirely different set of motions. He has applied for a patent and hopes to market a product by year-end.

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