Florida Polytechnic students create wearable prototype for controlling skateboard with hand gestures

If you own a smartwatch, you can consider yourself a consumer of wearable technology. The concept has grown in popularity in recent years and now three students at Florida Polytechnic University are getting major funding for their own wearable prototype. 

A flick of the wrist doesn’t take much, but we found it can do much more than you might think.

"Gesture technology is capable of helping people, preventing harm and potentially saving lives," said DEX Interfaces lead hardware engineer Kevin Racktoo.

Racktoo, David Terry, and Aaron Apigo are all seniors at Florida Polytechnic University. Just four months ago, they came up with the idea for a wearable device that can be used to control an electric longboard -- a type of skateboard -- through hand gestures.

"If you want to go forward, you can move your hand forward," Racktoo said.

The prototype is being developed under the name DEX Interfaces and it's already getting major financial support. So far, the group has brought in more than $5,000 from grants and competitions.

"It just means that people believe in the idea. It's been an incredible experience," offerd David Terry, team lead and hardware engineer.

As Terry explains, controlling a longboard through gestures isn't the end goal, but rather just the beginning. Currently, electronic longboards are controlled with hand-held remotes. 

"If you're fiddling with a little remote and trying to press buttons and this remote is something that you can easily drop, it's pretty likely that you're going to wind up hurting yourself," Racktoo said. "Gestures are a lot more intuitive than pressing a button, which you usually have to look down and read to find out what does what."

Their original prototype was a leather glove, but that's evolved into a small blue box and now into a bendable hand strap. They plan to eventually build and sell gesture-based electric longboard controllers.

It's just a peek at the potential for a group of young entrepreneurs with a big idea that's already paying for itself.

"It shows that hard work, having a vision, and staying true to that path can be rewarded. It's phenomenal," Terry added.