Airwriting the screen shows the tracking of Christoph Amma's hand gestures, captured by the wristband image

Airwriting: the screen shows the tracking of Christoph Amma’s hand gestures, captured by the wristband. Photo: Markus Breig, KIT

The days of reaching for a notepad, phone or tablet in the middle of the night to scrawl down a note to yourself might soon be over thanks to a system that translates what you write in the air into editable text.

Called Airwriting, it was developed at Germany’s Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and puts sensors that ‘read’ handwriting gestures into a wearable wristband.

“We envision it being a perfect complement for speech and gesture recognition in future wearable computer systems,” said lead developer Christoph Amma, of KIT’s Cognitive Systems Lab.

It works using similar technology already in smartphones such as acceleration sensors and gyroscopes. They plot an accurate and changing picture of where your hand is in space and report back to a database that contains a vocabulary.

Previous approaches to arrive at editable text used single gesture recognition, but Airwriting stores a statistical model of the characteristic signal pattern for every letter of the alphabet. The system promises a person-independent word error rate of 11 per cent and a person-dependent rate (where it learns your particular writing style) of only 3 per cent.

Originally encased in a glove, Airwriting was the recipient of a Google Faculty Research Award worth US$81,000 in early 2013. The technology has since been reduced in size and now fits into a single wristband, positioning it comfortably into the burgeoning wearables sector.

Currently the system processes movements at approximately .83 seconds per character, but faster processing and smaller devices promise performance gains, the researchers said.

It’s conceivable Airwriting could be packed into a smart watch or ring, the vocabulary greatly expanded by accessing machine learning technologies that access and process language remotely, in the cloud.

If successful, Airwriting could be jumping on what’s shaping up to be a very lucrative gravy train in which global names have invested heavily.

Samsung took an early lead with its Gear line of smart watches which connect to an Android smartphone, while Google has had some success in working with developers to come up with applications for its wearable specs, Google Glass.

Apple is widely expected to be launching the so-called ‘iWatch’ – a wearable device many think will be the company’s first challenge to Gear, Google Glass and fitness bands like Jawbone and Fit.

Deloitte predicts 10 million wearable devices will be sold this year, while Juniper Research predicts the industry will be worth $19 billion by 2018.

A system to write in the air was suggested back in 2013, when a paper presented to an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conference by the South China University of Technology proposed a system based on Microsoft’s gesture control camera system Kinect.

But Airwriting needs no external sensor, and Amma says the system also circumvents the problems that can affect speech input.

“It’s unaffected by environment noise and bystanders aren’t distracted – nor can they eavesdrop on what was said.”

Airwriting gained interest at CeBIT Germany 2014 and Amma said his team was talking with several companies from different sectors about further research and applications.

Henry Sapiecha

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Sourced and Published by Henry Sapiecha 5th June 2010

Danish Researchers Reveal New

Hydrogen Storage Technology

ScienceDaily (Sep. 8, 2005) — Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark have invented a technology which may be an important step towards the hydrogen economy: a hydrogen tablet that effectively stores hydrogen in an inexpensive and safe material.

With the new hydrogen tablet, it becomes much simpler to use the environmentally-friendly energy of hydrogen. Hydrogen is a non-polluting fuel, but since it is a light gas it occupies too much volume, and it is flammable. Consequently, effective and safe storage of hydrogen has challenged researchers world-wide for almost three decades. At the Technical University of Denmark, DTU, an interdisciplinary team has developed a hydrogen tablet which enables storage and transport of hydrogen in solid form.

“Should you drive a car 600 km using gaseous hydrogen at normal pressure, it would require a fuel tank with a size of nine cars. With our technology, the same amount of hydrogen can be stored in a normal gasoline tank”, says Professor Claus Hviid Christensen, Department of Chemistry at DTU.

The hydrogen tablet is safe and inexpensive. In this respect it is different from most other hydrogen storage technologies. You can literally carry the material in your pocket without any kind of safety precaution. The reason is that the tablet consists solely of ammonia absorbed efficiently in sea-salt. Ammonia is produced by a combination of hydrogen with nitrogen from the surrounding air, and the DTU-tablet therefore contains large amounts of hydrogen. Within the tablet, hydrogen is stored as long as desired, and when hydrogen is needed, ammonia is released through a catalyst that decomposes it back to free hydrogen. When the tablet is empty, you merely give it a “shot” of ammonia and it is ready for use again.

“The technology is a step towards making the society independent of fossil fuels” says Professor Jens Nørskov, director of the Nanotechnology Center at DTU. He, Claus Hviid Christensen, Tue Johannessen, Ulrich Quaade and Rasmus Zink Sørensen are the five researchers behind the invention. The advantages of using hydrogen are numerous. It is CO2-free, and it can be produced by renewable energy sources, e.g. wind power.

“We have a new solution to one of the major obstacles to the use of hydrogen as a fuel. And we need new energy technologies – oil and gas will not last, and without energy, there is no modern society”, says Jens Nørskov.

Together with DTU and SeeD Capital Denmark, the researchers have founded the company Amminex A/S, which will focus on the further development and commercialization of the technology.

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 9th April 2010

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Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 25th March 2010

“Create the Future” Sustainable

Technologies Category Winner

The 2008 NASA Tech Briefs “Create the Future Design Contest,” presented by SolidWorks, recognized innovation in product design in six categories: Consumer Products, Machinery & Equipment, Medical, Safety & Security, Sustainable Technologies, and Transportation. Here is the winner of the Sustainable Technologies category, along with the two honorable mentions.

Efficient Air Conditioner

Lindsay Meek
Perth, Australia


altThis design improves the energy efficiency of a residential air conditioner by replacing the traditional reciprocating compressor (bore and stroke) with a higher efficiency permanent magnet motor coupled to a scroll compressor. Recent advances in permanent magnet motors used in modern hybrid car electric drives and wind turbine generation have seen the incorporation of strong NdFeB magnets into the rotor, which greatly improves the motor efficiency. The compressor motor is then driven by a compact IGBT inverter stage with a motor controller, so motor current consumption can be optimized at the different operating speeds.

The other improvement that can be made is to replace the traditional refrigerant expansion valve with a similar scroll expander turbine coupled to a second permanent magnet generator. The decompression of the refrigerant gas through the turbine on its way to the condenser allows some of the work used to compress the gas to be recovered and converted back into electrical energy. The generator is connected to a second compact IGBT inverter stage with a motor controller, and can be controlled in conjunction with the compressor motor controller to regulate the pressure and flow rate of the gas through the system.

The two inverters are connected together via a common, high-voltage DC bus, so the electrical energy recovered from the decompression state can be reused by the compression stage, improving the overall efficiency of the refrigeration cycle. Finally, an AC-DC rectifier power supply is needed to provide the main work energy for the DC bus to keep the cycle operating. The above improvements should lower the power consumption by at least 30%.

For more information, contact the inventor at

Sourced and published by Henry Sapiecha 8th Sept 2009