Typing text messages on a mobile phone via the tiny soft keyboard is very cumbersome. How about simply writing your words in the air? This idea drove the development of “airwriting” developed by computer scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Sensors attached to a glove record hand movements, a computer system captures relevant signals and translates them into text, which can then create an email, text message, or any other type of mobile app. “Our Airwriting glove fits on the back of the hand. It has motion sensors, accelerometers and angular rate sensors – technologies used in modern smartphones – and signals are just recorded and transmitted via Bluetooth, for example, in this case to a laptop,» says computer scientist Christoph Amma. Once it has determined that letters are indeed being drawn, the computer then sets about identifying the individual letters. The program incorporates statistical models of the unique signal patterns for every letter in the alphabet, and can account for differences in individual writing styles. “The inclusion of the motion signals in the glove is now technically relatively simple, but the main task for us has been to find a method on how to translate the signals into written letters,” says Amma. The system can recognize complete sentences written in capital letters and presently has a vocabulary of 8000 words. Developers claim the system has an error rate of 11%.