Normally, we point at things to specify, or to emphasize, what we're talking about. But a project from several MIT researchers aims to make pointing a way to learn more about the world around you—with a special ring on your index finger and a smartphone in your pocket.
Called EyeRing, the finger-worn device allows you to point at an object, take a photo, and hear feedback about what it is you just focused on. The project is the brainchild of Pattie Maes, a professor in MIT's Media Lab who studies interfaces that let us interact with digital information in novel, intuitive ways. Initially conceived as a potential aid for the visually impaired, the EyeRing could also work as a navigation or translation aid, or help children learn to read, say the researchers involved. The group is interested in eventually turning it into a commercial product.
As smartphones become increasingly common, the use of augmented reality—the blending of digital content with the real world—has also risen, mainly in the form of apps that harness the phone's camera and sensors and use its screen as a window to a more data-rich world (see "Augmented Reality Is Finally Getting Real").