Douglas Engelbart (’48 EE) invented the first point-and-click mouse in 1964, and numerous variations on the original design have surfaced since then. For their 21st-century senior project, electrical and computer engineering students Mushfiqur Sarker, Anton Bilbaeno, and Jason Muhlestein sought to make computer interaction even more intuitive by eliminating the need to be tethered to a mouse. Their solution is a glove that allows users to wirelessly control their computers.
“A traditional mouse requires a surface,” explained Bilbaeno, “and we wanted to create one that was free floating so that we could play games with it from 30 feet away instead of having to be sitting in front of a computer.”
The team built a system that senses hand rotation to control a computer mouse, similar to how an iPhone senses rotation. The invention shows promise for use not only by gamers, but people with arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, visual presenters, robotics controllers, and others. It is compatible with any Bluetooth-enabled Windows computer and features two sensors — an accelerometer and a gyroscope to map the rotation angles. Eight touch sensors on the glove fingers function when tapped with the gloved thumb. The touch sensors and glove sensitivity are fully customizable.
The glove weighs eight ounces, and one size fits all. It features an easily replaceable battery with an average battery life of 10 hours. Among team challenges, said Bilbaeno, was piecing together the conductive fabric and thread from which the glove is primarily composed. His mother, a manager at Nike in Portland, assisted the team in designing the glove from scratch.
“The research that is done at OSU is revolutionary and has steered me towards pursuing a research career,” said Sarker, who will pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Washington. “The research that I have been a part of here has taught me critical problem-solving skills to increase my overall technical understanding.”