SEATTLE — The Peregrine at first glance looks like someone took a black glove and tried to make it look like a cyber punk costume. It has metal running up and down each finger, and metal tips to the thumb, and along the palm of the glove.
In reality it’s a keyboard attached to your fingers. They are using hand gestures similar to American Sign Language to control your computer and your computer games. If you touch your thumb to your middle finger at the end it will trigger one key, or macro, if you touch it in the middle it triggers another one. They are claiming that there are over 30 combinations of gestures that the hardware recognizes; when I got to try it, the presenter showed me that he used 40 different ones. All the gestures consist of you touching the end of one of your fingers to the middle of another one, or to the palm of your hand.
The metal cables that are running through the glove were branded, as “military grade” the presenter said that he had abused his glove and was unable to break the metal cables. It seems like the fabric in it would tear long before the rest of the glove was damaged. They said that the glove is also the cheapest part–probably about $20–since all the actual intelligence and work is in the cable that goes from the glove to the computer.
They had areas where there were no contacts like above the palm of the glove with netting instead of the fabric so that your hands won’t sweat. The Fabric was also flexible enough that it can be used while typing. I had no trouble moving my hands when I put it on; it’s a thin glove so shouldn’t give much trouble doing dextrose activities like picking up objects, like say, going to the fridge for a drink. Though, with the metal contacts on it I’d avoid actually spilling water on it. They said that it is hand washable though since it’s durable metal, and just plain fabric, so if you do spill something on the glove you can still clean it.
To make it easy to leave the computer to get things the glove snaps on and off. The glove has a magnet and a proprietary connection on the back that connects to a USB wire. The wire again has all the logic for the glove in it.
The spots on the glove that they sewed into the fabric show where to press your fingers to. The software though is able to calibrate to how you actually press your fingers. Also if you miss the spot you could have two spots do the same action if you want.
The configuration software that they showed me has a picture of the glove, as a guide and then allows the user to calibrate the glove, set the macro’s or setup a configuration for the glove, or setup multiple configurations. The picture has dots for the points on the glove, where you can click on a dot and set the macro, or key in the assignment screen, or go through how you would do a given gesture in the calibration window so the glove fits your exact style of game play. They also were nice when you want to clear data from a point; they make you do that action so you confirm that is really the action you want to clear, and not a miss-click of the mouse.
Different games might need different configurations. One macro that’s good for one application could be bad for another. They have the configuration program as a tray icon in windows that you can click on to quickly set the configuration.
The Actions that are caused by certain movements of your hand can be triggered to a simple keyboard press, or to an elaborate macro, allowing you to execute a complex command with just a simple hand gesture. These macros and keyboard actions are powerful enough that people end up completely replacing their keyboard with the glove.
They were also claiming that it’s faster to learn a new game than a keyboard; I’m not as certain about this claim. It’s definitely a learning curve to starting to use for the first time, once you’re used to the gestures it’s probably easier to learn new games than that first game, and it is nice that with most games they decide that the keyboard hot keys are related to the action by being a letter in the command. This can be hard to remember 60 or so different commands and which key matches to them. In the peregrine they can be mapped based on their location on the screen, such that the index finger is row 1, the middle finger is row two, and so on. They could also be mapped based on type of action. The tricky thing in starting a new game this way is remembering which finger is which and arranging it such that you only have a max of 5 categories. The positional keys are also important if different characters in a game have completely different actions so that they can all be learned in a similar way.
Personally when I played with it, it felt awkward at first but I can see how it would be addicting. I liked how once I got used to it, it could be very easy to do different actions, very little thought to pressing your thumb and ring finger together. This also could be nice for people that have issues with their wrists. Since there is no object to press against, you can make sure your wrist is straight. On the other hand, if you’re lazy, you still might end out bending your wrists when you move your fingers which would prove to be just as bad as a keyboard.
Overall I think if you play a lot of PC games you should definitely give this a try. This may turn out to be the controller of the future. If they added in some motion sensors then they wouldn’t even need a mouse at all.