The wireless wearable is the work of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who see it being used in a variety of situations. Say, for example, you have messy hands while doing a spot of DIY and your mobile goes off. Instead of covering your handset in gunk, you could operate it using your thumb-based trackpad instead.
Likewise, if you’re knocking up a dish for dinner but don’t want to plaster the ingredients all over your tablet’s display every time you scroll through the recipe, a little swipe across your thumbnail and you’re sorted.
Those who read a lot using their smartphones might also find the gadget useful, as the movement and effort required to push down the page with NailO is far less compared to constantly swiping the display with your finger. For heavy users it could even reduce ligament strain.
To achieve the design, NailO’s creators had to squeeze in not only capacitive sensors and a battery, but also three separate chips. Of course, it can be personalized too. “From the fashion-conscious, to techies, and anyone in between, NailO can make a style, art, or a design statement,” the team behind the trackpad says on its website.
It also points out additional benefits, such as the ability to discreetly send a text message during an important meeting where such an action might otherwise be frowned upon, or as an extra input surface for mobile devices.
Researchers are currently trying to make the device even smaller and more powerful, at which point a commercial version could be offered. More information on the prototype NailO will be revealed in Seoul next week at the Computer Human Interaction conference.
So how about NailO? Could you see yourself going about your day with a trackpad on your thumb? Sound off in the comments below?