Text and write e-mails in the air

An article I wrote for Electronic Products.

The air-writing glove converts hand-drawn letters into digital text

Most of the time you spend jabbing your thumbs on your touchscreen’s small keys, you’re correcting mistakes that apparently were already auto-corrected. When squiggling a sentence with your finger into the clear blue sky, that doesn’t happen.

Thanks to the computer scientists at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, writing in the air is possible. They’ve created an air-writing glove system that allows wearers to draw letters in the air with their hands. The sensor-equipped glove system is able to identify which letters are being drawn, and then converts them into digital text, which can be wirelessly entered into a text message, e-mail, or mobile app.


Developer of air-writing, Christoph Amma of KIT, Image via digitaltrends.com

After the glove detects hand movements through integrated accelerometers and gyroscopes, the data is wirelessly transmitted to a computer. By using pattern recognition software, the system is actually able to determine if the wearer’s movements are air-writing, or if they’re doing something else with their hands, such as eating. The system also uses this software to recognize 8,000 words (as long as each word is drawn in all capital letters) and even complete sentences. Currently, the system has an error rate of 11%, but that decreases to 3% once it’s able to pick up on the wearer’s unique air-writing style).

As for the future of this technology, developer and doctoral student, Christoph Amma, hopes to make the system easier to use by shrinking the sensors. By making the sensors smaller, the glove could be replaced by something more practical, like a wrist band. Also in mind is the idea of having the hardware built into a single hand-held device, such as a smartphone. The phone could then be used to detect hand movements and process the data.

Only time can tell if this astonishing piece of technology will spell the end for the keyboard and old-fashioned pen. Though most would agree that waving your arms around in the air to form a lengthy sentence would get tiring, keep in mind that there are no tiny keys or auto-correct to change the meaning of your whole sentence. It’s also easier to spill that white chocolate mocha latte on your keyboard than on your air-writing glove.

Story via Gizmag.


  1. Kirsten Lopresti · March 15, 2013

    Writing in the air sounds fabulous!

    • Nicole DiGiose · March 15, 2013

      It really does! It’s something I wished I could do as a kid. Though I honestly believe texting (and calling!) is a lot quicker, this would be fun to try.

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