In my family I am the most comfortable using the on-screen keyboard of my phone, which is odd because I also have the largest hands and fattest fingers. For those with less dexterous digits, many people and companies create advanced on-screen keyboards with special features and carefully constructed keys for the best results. Now researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed what might be the next generation of physical language input; Airwriting.
As the name suggests, Airwriting is able to translate in-air gestures into letters, which gives new meaning to talking with your hands. It achieves this with a system of accelerometers and gyroscopes that monitor the movement of the hand and wrist, and that movement data is then transmitted back to a computing system for interpretation. Using statistical models of the data for different letters, it is able to discern when one is writing in the air or performing some other action, though currently to a point. The system only has a vocabulary of 8000 words, but it has an error rate of just 11%, until it learns an individual's writing style, at which point the error rate drops to just 3%.
The researchers are now looking to refining the technology to better recognize words. Also they want to make the system smaller and believe it is feasible to one day fit the sensors and transmitter into an unobtrusive wrist band.