News: College Student Creates 'Scroll,' a Ring That Lets You Control Your AR Experience

College Student Creates 'Scroll,' a Ring That Lets You Control Your AR Experience

Forget what you know about controlling augmented reality experiences. "Scroll" lets you interact with augmented reality using a much more subtle approach: A ring.

It looks like an ordinary ring on your finger. It's black, sleek, and attractive, which is a huge plus. Scroll recognizes gestures including flicking your hand, pointing your fingers, scrolling your thumb against the side of the ring, and tapping the ring. All of these components make Scroll an easy way to control an augmented reality experience without drawing too much attention to yourself by waving your hand around.

The product was created by Nat Martin from the Royal College of Arts' master's program in Innovation Design Engineering in London. He told DeZeen a bit about why he developed Scroll and how he came up with the idea:

Scroll is a proposal for rethinking our everyday digital interactions in space using emerging AR technologies to create a more delightful and intuitive means of interacting with everyday digital functions. The more an interface is able to make use of intuitive meaning, the more efficient and simple it can be.

Image by Nat Martin/YouTube

According to a video on his YouTube channel, Martin began this process by questioning what the best, most natural way to interact with VR/AR headsets is. He then came up with the conclusion that pointing is typically a natural way of interacting with space. So, he started out by experimenting with "mimicking pointing by using a gyroscope attached to a laser pointed on a robot arm." After, Martin started to try and figure out a way that such technology could be more accessible by playing around with development in Unity. As he developed, he realized that subtle, natural ways of interacting with AR in everyday life could be achieved and thus Scroll was born.

On his website, Martin said:

The main problem I found with hand-tracking was that your hands needed to be in sight of the tracker which, if mounted on the headset, means your hands always need to be elevated which is tiring and inconvenient in the real world. The ring allows you to interact with your AR world far more conveniently. For example, you could fully interact with your AR world whilst keeping your hands by your side on the bus.

The ring is compatible with VR/AR headsets like the HoloLens. Once AR images are superimposed over a field of vision, users can interact with the ring thanks to sensors, scrollers, and a gyroscope embedded into Scroll so that the ring can identify which direction it's facing.

For now, the ring is best able to interact with "everyday digital experiences", according to Martin. These include navigation systems, playlists, and calendars. You can scroll through an AR version of your calendar, swipe through songs on your playlist, and look through the best paths to get where you need to go.

While Scroll isn't fully developed or available yet, Martin's project is certainly an innovative way that we might be interacting with augmented reality in the future.

Cover image via Nat Martin/YouTube

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