Oct. 8, 2012 at 8:17 PM ET
Wearing out your wrist using a mouse or trackpad to interact with your computer? This device from Microsoft Research straps right onto your arm and tracks every tiny finger movement. Think of it as an air mouse.
The device, called Digits, is essentially a camera sensitive to infrared light that sits on your wrist and watches your hand. A tiny laser projects a grid onto it (invisible to our eyes), allowing the camera to track movement very precisely. It's actually a lot like having a tiny Kinect mounted on your arm, and in fact the team was inspired by the Kinect hardware.
There's also an accelerometer inside, so it can also track your arm and body movements — though without the same level of precision.
The demonstration video below shows off a few interesting ideas for gestures, from a pinch-and-zoom in the air to a grabbing gesture to move around a virtual room. But perhaps the most obvious application is in sign language: the camera, or a pair of them, can see the hand gestures very clearly and easily translates them into letters or words.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.