Major automotive supplier Denso Corporation has developed an electronic cat-faced ring that turns the human hand into a remote control and lets the wearer operate devices simply by pressing fingers together.
In a recent prototype demonstration of the ring, called "Yubi-nya" -- which is a play on the Japanese words for "ring" (yubiwa) and "meow" (nya) -- users were able to remotely open and close the doors of a model car by pressing their index finger and thumb together.
Yubi-nya, whose components are packed into the 2-centimeter thick likeness of a calico cat head, produces a weak electric current that is conducted through the wearer's index finger. When the tips of the finger and thumb are pressed together, the current travels through the flesh of the hand and loops back around to the ring. A sensor inside the ring then detects the returning current, and the corresponding remote control radio signal is sent to the appropriate device.
The developers suggest Yubi-nya's technology can be put to use in a variety of devices, including portable music players. A commuter on a crowded train, for example, could operate a music player while maintaining a firm grip on the subway strap.
Denso has not announced when a commercial version of Yubi-nya will become available, but researcher Saori Noda says, "We are working to make it smaller and less noticeable."