NailO – Fashion Meets Computer Technology
It looks like a bandage you had to use to cover a ripped nail. However, it is the newest technology enabling you to control your digital devices. NaillO, developed at MIT Media Laboratory, is actually a small device you attach to your thumbnail. When NailO is activated it becomes a personalized wireless track pad allowing you to work remotely with any touch pad device. It integrates a processor, the Bluetooth radio and the battery into an incredibly small fingernail sized package. Since it does not need to be plugged in or connected to anything, NailO allows for easy access to touchscreens in phones and computers.
NailO has three separate chips which are confined into this thumbnail sized space but, according to Artem Dementyev, a graduate student in media arts and sciences at MIT, “designing the antenna was probably the hardest part”. Dementyev, one of the paper’s authors, stated that the “antenna, had to be far enough away from the chips so it did not interfere with them”.
The battery is also a special challenge. A trip to China to talk with battery manufacturers may have brought a technology to provide them with a better battery that fits into a thumbnail, yet it’s thickness is only half a millimeter. The purpose is of course to save space, which is leading them to discover a way to combine all three necessary chips into one. The process to turning NailO off an on is still being worked on, which is another measure of saving the battery’s energy supply.
Interestingly enough the device was a result of the fashion stickers that some Asian women are using on their nails. These colorful stickers are very popular according to Cindy Hsin-Liy Kao, one of the other paper’s lead authors. Kao was unable to find the fashion stickers and had to have them sent to her from Taiwan. Ms. Kao is also an MIT graduate student in media arts and sciences.
The idea ballooned from there with the intent that NailO will be completely customize-able with different “stickers” to cover it as well as being completely functional. The stickers are interchangeable so the piece is also a fashion statement.
Imagine being in a being important meeting and you need to let your spouse or child know you will be late. This can be accomplished without your colleagues knowing what you are doing. It can also be used in cooking when following a recipe by scrolling pages without having you leave the task you are currently on. The purposes the NailO can be used for are just being explored. Many more uses will no doubt be forthcoming soon.