Typing Gloves

One of the earliest proposed platforms for ASETNIOP was a set of typing gloves with sensor-equipped fingertips, allowing for any flat surface to be used as a keyboard.  In particular, with the prospect of Google Glasses truly revolutionizing the world of wearable computing, the idea of keyboard-equipped gloves is more intriguing than ever.  About two years ago I played around with the concept a bit and took apart a USB keyboard and used the circuit board with some wire and a pair of gloves to build a set of my own.  They didn’t work very well, but the ASETNIOP software has come a long, long way since then so I pulled them out of storage and gave them a try this week – they actually work quite well and they’re surprisingly fun to use.  It’s a bit of a silly project, but if you’ve got an old USB keyboard (or you’ve got an Arduino microcontroller and some electronics know-how) you can build a set at home.  I’ve included a video of the final project, and rudimentary instructions on how to put them together.

Video of the finished gloves in action:


What you’ll need:
1 pair gloves – I used a simple set of cotton stretch gloves that I got at a fabric store for about a dollar.
10 snap fasteners – Also available at a fabric store, there’s a pretty extensive variety of options available. I used something that had a simple crimping connection that you can close with a hammer.
1 USB keyboard – You’ll be cannibalizing this.
1 metal baseplate –  Anything that is big enough to accomodate both your hands (about 6″x12″ or 15 x 30 cm) will do.  I used stainless steel, but anything that can carry a current (aluminum or even copper) should be fine.
1 piece of plywood – Something big enough to hold the metal and other components.
Assorted screws and wires

First, connect the snap connectors to the fingertips of the gloves. You’ll want to put the gloves on and mark where your fingers actually make contact when pressed down, for me point of contact on my thumbs is actually on the sides.  You can attach the wires during or after, depending on what kind of snaps and crimping system you’re using.  I used some extra fabric to make a set of bands to wrap around each finger to add afterwards, these help keep the wires from floating around and getting in the way.



Next, take the keyboard apart and find the chip that controls which signals get sent to the computer. Don’t disconnect the USB cord!  One of the terminals is going to be connected to the baseplate, if you close a circuit between this and any of the other terminals it will send a code to the computer. You can plug in the USB connection to your computer and test the code outputs at asetniop.com/keyboardDebug.html.  For mine, I connected the fingers to the terminals for (from left to right):

Left Hand Right Hand
Finger Key Code Finger Key Code
Pinky K 75 Thumb A 65
Ring L 76 Index S 83
Middle SEMICOLON 186/59 Middle D 68
Index BACKSLASH 220 Ring F 70
Thumb ENTER 13 Pinky J 74


Mount the chip and the metal baseplate on the plywood backing and use wire to connect the primary terminal with the baseplate (and the ground wire, if there is one). Then connect the individual wires for each of your output terminals to the fingertips of each glove; you’ll want to set things up so they stay out of your way as much as possible.


And that’s pretty much it!  Plug the USB connection into your computer, and if you used the same set of keycodes that are described above, you can go to asetniop.com/gloves.html and start using them right away!  If not, just drop us a line and we’ll get a custom array based on your own keycodes set up for you!

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