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Surprising Science

I Spy, With My Little Eye (Ring), A Green Shirt

A camera, worn on a finger and providing data to a smartphone, combines augmented reality with wearable technology.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Pattie Maes, a professor at MIT’s Media Lab, has designed a device called the EyeRing that is worn on the index finger. When the finger points at an object, the device “sees” it, takes a photo, and sends the photo to a smartphone, which provides aural feedback. The EyeRing was “initially conceived as a potential aid for the visually impaired, [but it] could also work as a navigation or translation aid, or help children learn to read.” Although not yet available to the public, the research team has been able to get it to work with Android software and on a Mac computer, and they are in the process of developing an iPhone app.

What’s the Big Idea?

The EyeRing is one of the newest designs that seek to take advantage of “augmented reality” technology, which combines digital and real-world data. Additionally, by being a wearable device, it’s in the same development realm as Google’s recently-announced “interactive glasses” and must clear similar potential hurdles before hitting the market. “[A]ny wearable device will face some of same issues that have hampered smartphones: limited processing power and battery life. And wearable technology faces the additional hurdle of needing to be comfortable enough for people to want to use it for extended periods of time.”

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