Researchers from Microsoft’s computer science laboratory have unveiled a new wristband designed to read a user’s hand movements as a new way of wirelessly controlling electronic devices called Digits. The device utilizes infrared technology to accurately model the movements and positioning of the wearer’s hand and fingers in 3D, and is designed to be less cumbersome than a traditional sensor glove.

The designers believe that Digits could easily be used as a remote for the TV, an accurate video game controller, or using their smartphone hands-free by allowing users to make precise gestures that would act as virtual keystrokes in real time. In an accompanying video to the study, the researchers shows a user playing a video game while pointing his finger like a gun, and pressing his thumb down to act as a trigger that causes the gun to fire. Another demonstration has a user interacting with a tablet computer using traditional touchscreen gestures without being within the line of sight of the tablet.

“One interesting possibility here is to detect the type of action by the initial 3D shape of the hand,” wrote the Microsoft researchers in their study. “For example, if the user requires to change the volume, they simply configure their hand as if they are holding a virtual dial, which can then be rotated to set the desired level.”

Critics, however, believe that many people wouldn’t want to have a potentially cumbersome set of sensors on their wrist at all times, particularly in its current unrefined state. While this has been true of sensor gloves in the past, the research team led by David Kim hope that a more refined retail model may be less cumbersome and more attractive to users. Although the product itself is rather bulky at the moment, Kim stated that this was due to it being constructed with off-the-shelf components, and that Digits’ appearance and functionality would be improved through the use of customized parts, which could help in enticing early-adopters.

“Ultimately we would like to reduce Digits to the size of a watch that can be worn all the time,” said Kim. ”We want users to be able to interact spontaneously with their electronic devices using simple gestures and not even have to reach for their devices.”