Grad student designs glove for video games

Jason Skowronski, grad student ECE, displays his senior project, a virtual game controller glove which he designed with a team of five other students last year in Everitt Labs. Amelia Moore The Daily Illini

Jason Skowronski, grad student ECE, displays his senior project, a virtual game controller glove which he designed with a team of five other students last year in Everitt Labs. Amelia Moore The Daily Illini

By Madeline Keleher

The traditional hand-held video-game controller may soon be ancient history, as more gamers begin thinking outside the box.

Jason Skowronski, a graduate student, is working to supplement the traditional video-game controller with an electronic glove that works by punching or waving your hands.

The idea for the glove originated two years ago when Skowronski was using a PDA to take notes in class.

“I thought it would be so much faster and better if I could type the notes without using a keyboard, like typing in the air on a virtual keyboard,” Skowronski said.

He went to work on the idea right away, spending his winter break sorting out patent issues. He obtained the patent on his own rather than with a lawyer to save several thousand dollars, he said.

The base of Skowronski’s working model is a regular glove he bought at a sporting-goods store. Thin sensors are glued across the top side of the glove, running from the fingertips to the wrist. A wireless receiver sends the hand motion detected by the sensors to a computer. Once the information is processed, a 3-D model of the hand appears on the screen.

Three-dimensional motion tracking also indicates where in space the hand is, in addition to how bent the fingers are, Skowronski said.

This level of interaction may be appealing to gamers, said Chris Howaniec, freshman in Engineering. Howaniec said it would be interesting to see more body coordination required in video games rather than just thumb motion.

“At the same time, I’m not sure how many people would be open to it,” Howaniec said.

Skowronski said he intends to better integrate the wires to prevent tangling and hopes to make it simpler and cheaper to manufacture.

“Right now, it costs a couple hundred bucks because a lot of it is made by hand,” Skowronski said. “But once it’s manufactured in higher volume, it would cost around $50.”