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A screen at your fingertips

The NailDisplay prototype.

The NailDisplay prototype.

Do you ever jab violently at your smartphone screen because the button you are trying to push is just too damn small?

Researchers at the National Taiwan University in Taipei may have the perfect solution - a screen on your fingernail.

The prototype is a little clunky - a one-inch OLED screen attached to a ring that you wear on your thumb. But engineers working on the project hope one day it will be possible to coat fingernails in organic light-emitting materials and wirelessly beam content directly to the nail itself.

Typing made clearer: NailDisplay.

Typing made clearer: NailDisplay.

"The proposed display augments the use of a finger by allowing for always-available visual feedback," write the researchers in their paper, NailDisplay: Bringing an Always-Available Visual Display To Fingertips. "What you control is what you see."

The technology, dubbed NailDisplay, has the potential to revolutionise the way we use devices such as smartphones, tablets and PCs, the researchers say.

The aim of the technology is to allow you to see what's on your device's screen even when your thumbs are covering up the display. For example, if you're typing on a smartphone screen but can't actually see the keys you are trying to press, the NailDisplay would show what's going on under your thumbs.

If obscurity by thumb isn't a major headache for you, the technology has other uses too.

The fingernail screen could enlarge an area of the screen as your thumb moves over it, making it easier to push small buttons or read tiny text.

The device could also potentially create a screen for gadgets that don't have one, such as the iPod Shuffle, allowing users to play video content from the device.

The researchers say the device incorporates an accelerometer, which means different content could be displayed using different finger gestures.

Chao-Huai Su and his colleagues are due to present the draft paper at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris in April.

22 comments

  • or just do what android does and show what your hitting on the screen.

    Commenter
    bondiboy23
    Date and time
    March 19, 2013, 2:06PM
    • You mean do what iPhone has always done and what Android copied?

      Commenter
      a
      Date and time
      March 19, 2013, 2:36PM
    • Please try and understand the difference between "your" and "you're" before posting next time. It isn't hard.

      Commenter
      sugardaddy
      Date and time
      March 19, 2013, 3:06PM
    • Apple plebs are always so angry. Don't worry the share price will start to improve in 5-6 years.

      Commenter
      bondiboy23
      Date and time
      March 19, 2013, 3:20PM
    • sugardaddy, please lighten up a little, it's a message board. Try to understand these are only casual comments.

      Commenter
      Lazor
      Date and time
      March 19, 2013, 7:59PM
    • @sugardaddy, you have to make allowance for the fact that they are Android users.

      Commenter
      The Other Guy
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      March 20, 2013, 7:15AM
    • Who cares whom did it first. Generic things like showing what you have pushed on a screen and swiping a screen should never have been patented in the first place.

      Commenter
      Lonski
      Date and time
      March 20, 2013, 8:57AM
  • I think they've hit the nail on the head with this invention. Thumbs up!

    Commenter
    Fingers
    Date and time
    March 19, 2013, 2:16PM
    • Or just use Swype which doesn't require you to tap individual letters.

      Commenter
      Madman
      Date and time
      March 19, 2013, 2:42PM
      • Swype is useless if what you type is random, like phone numbers, passwords, or another language.

        Commenter
        myace
        Location
        Cabramatta
        Date and time
        March 19, 2013, 3:07PM

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