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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 08:35 GMT
Future in your hand
The P5 glove, BBC
The glove is lightweight and easy to use
Alfred Hermida

A hi-tech glove that tracks hand movements could change the way we use computers.

The P5 glove, developed by Essential Reality, can replace the keyboard and mouse, letting you control your computer by just moving your hand and fingers in space.

The idea of virtual gloves has been around for a while, but in the past, they have been awkward to use, impractical and often expensive.

By contrast, the P5 glove is light, easy to use and is expected to cost between US$129 and US$149, depending on the games that come with it.

Immersive experience

"You can go to any game and, just by moving your hand, you are moving in space," said David Devor, Essential Reality vice-president.

Essential Reality's David Devor, BBC
Devor: Glove is "extremely intuitive"
"We have always found it extremely immersive and extremely intuitive. It's a complete motion capture unit on your hand," he told BBC News Online.

The company has spent almost three years developing the product, which is due to go on sale later this year. It is based on the technology behind the old Nintendo power glove.

Released in 1989, Nintendo sold 1.6 million gloves, but it was clunky, unwieldy and looked more like an oven glove.

"Originally the design started with the complete glove," explained Mr Devor. "But we managed to get rid of all the fabric, allowing for different sized hands to be able to work with the same piece and not have to worry about any of the hygiene issues."

'Bend sensor' technology

The P5 has narrow strips that run along the back of each finger, held in place by a ring on the fingertip.

The gaming industry is a huge market for us

David Devor, Essential Reality
The strips contain "bend sensor" technology that sends impulses back to the computer, reading the finger movements.

The glove is kept on the hand by a simple black elastic strap, which means it will fit any size of hand.

The product is aimed at boys and young men who play video games. But the company sees all sorts of possible applications in the future.

"The gaming industry is a huge market for us," explained Mr Devor. "But aside from the gaming industry, there're many different industries. For example, an animator who sits there and designs games or cartoons."

The company also sees potential for use of the glove in the military, scientific and medical fields.

The glove plugs into a computer through a USB port and works with Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Essential Reality is working to ensure it is compatible with computers running a Mac or Linux OS, as well as looking into making it work with the Playstation 2 and the Xbox.

David Devor
We managed to get rid of all the fabric
See also:

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