SudoGlove: Bend index finger to accelerate car

In an attempt to bridge the gap between users and traditional hardware devices, Cornell University engineering students create a sensor-enabled glove that controls an RC car.

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
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Leslie Katz
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Jeremy Blum
Jeremy Blum wears the glove and control module (click to enlarge). Jeremy Blum

The SudoGlove, designed and built by engineering students at Cornell University, allows wearers to control a modded RC car using hand gestures. But it has implications for any hardware containing a wireless transceiver, says Jeremy Blum, a Cornell junior majoring in electrical and computer engineering and one of the students who worked on the SudoGlove as a final project for an information science class sponsored by Intel.

"All the processing is done on the glove side of the system, and simple 8-bit control values are transmitted that can be used to do just about anything on the control end," Blum told CNET. Just the other night, Blum created a computer interface that can be controlled by the glove. He'll display it and the hand-controlled RC car at BOOM 2011, Cornell's technology and innovation showcase, on March 9.

But unlike other gestural gloves that can be used to control virtual objects, the SudoGlove (so named for the Sudo programming command) is aimed at bridging the gap between users and traditional hardware devices.

"By removing the distance between the user and traditional hardware devices," the students say, "our goal is for SudoGlove to feel more like an extension of the body as opposed to an external machine."

To make the SudoGlove, Blum and peers Joe Ballerini, Tiffany Ng, and Alex Garcia outfitted a standard RC car with an Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller and other electronics components.

RC car
An XBee wireless module receives commands from the glove, and an Arduino Pro Mini processes them and tells the reworked car what to do. Jeremy Blum

The tricked-out Reebok glove got a flex sensor, two force sensors, a vibration sensor, and a 2D gyroscope on the wrist. The glove sends data to a battery-operated control module worn on a belt holster.

In all, the project involved 250 hours of combined labor, 150 feet of wire, and 600 lines of code. Even in a world where technology increasingly bows to the will of motion, that might seem like a lot of work to go into a toy car. Then again, maybe it's a small price to pay if the simple bend of a finger drives all of our gadgets one day.