I write about wearable tech a lot, and this is the most creative expression I’ve seen packed into a wearable in a while. Unlike a lot of wearables, this one would actually be super useful too. I could see myself wearing this because it would make my life easier. Since this wireless trackpad is the first one of its kind, it might not immediately make sense. If you watch the 2-minute video to see it in action though, it will be like having an aha moment.
It’s called NailO, and it is an electronic sticker that you stick to your thumbnail. It looks like nail art, and you could even personalize it to fit your personality. It functions the same as the trackpad on your laptop. As the video describes, it’s like having a third hand.
You just discreetly rub your thumbnail with your index finger and suddenly you can control your devices. It’s like the ultimate gesture-controlled trackpad or mouse. It’s so tiny and thin that it just naturally becomes part of your body.
As hardware becomes smaller, thinner and more flexible, our personal technology will draw more inspiration from the cosmetic world. In other words, the future of wearables might look less like a Rolex and more like the patterned nail decals at Walgreens.
The incredible thing about this wireless trackpad is that the researchers were able to fit a capacitive-sensing chip, a Bluetooth radio chip and a microcontroller all into a sticker that fits on your thumbnail.
According to Cnet, Artem Dementyev (a graduate student who assisted on this trackpad project), said the most difficult part of the design was creating the antenna. They had to be sure to place the antenna far enough away from the three ships so they wouldn’t interfere with each other. It’s amazing what can happen in a space as small as a thumbnail.
I think if I were to wear this trackpad, which I hope to do someday, it would feel like my gadgets were even more a part of me and my body. My only question is; how will this affect us when we get a manicure? I suppose we’ll have to figure out whether or not it will stick to a thumbnail covered in nail polish.
YouTube: NailO: A thumbnail-mounted wireless trackpad (by MIT)