We’ve often discussed how important the user interface for wearable Health Tech devices is to their success, and how complex the problem is to come up with a good solution (such as here and here). Researchers at the famous MIT Media Labs have come up with a novel approach to the issue; they have created a self-contained wireless touchpad that mounts on your thumbnail.

Called NailO, the product was inspired by colorful fingernail stickers that are popular with women in Asian countries. The thumb is also a strategic location for a controller; it’s easy to reach, can be unobtrusive, and can be used even if you’re holding something else in your hand.

The researchers have created prototypes that have a matrix capacitive sensors, controlling circuitry, a Bluetooth wireless chip, and a battery. They are exploring ways to use printed electronics and novel battery technology along with a custom chip that integrates all the electronics. The result could be just half a millimeter thick, or about the same thickness as five sheets of copy paper. That’s small enough to disappear into our daily lives and become a simple device that we come to use throughout the day.