New technology developed by Carnegie Mellon University researchers allows users to turn the skin on their hand and forearm into a giant smart watch touchpad. The system, aptly called SkinTrack, allows those who feel limited by the size of their smart watch display can swipe right and left and even send an e-mail simply by tapping, for instance, their elbow.
The system, aptly called SkinTrack, was created by research lab Future Interfaces Group and includes a custom ring, to be worn on the finger operating the smart watch, and a four sets of built into its strap. When users move the ring across the skin of their hand or forearm, a high-frequency signal is sent out, communicating with the sensitive strap attached to the smartwatch.
SkinTrack recognizes gestures such as taps or swipes as well as continuous tracking. While the first features enable smartwatch wearers to hop between apps, the last one basically allows them to turn the entire surface of their forearm as a massive canvas to draw or into a touchpad for playing games. Plus, the system also recognizes hot keys, such as “S”, used to silence a call or N for opening your news app and can create shortcuts, which can be placed anywhere on your hand or forearm. Moreover, SkinTrack senses even when users hover their operating finger above their hand or arm, even through clothes.
The newly-unveiled system proposes a novel approach to the limitations posed by the size of the display of wearable devices, primarily smart watches, which unlike smartphones or tablets need stay small due to fashion and usability constraints. According to its developers, no health risks have been associated with SkinTrack, which uses a high-frequency radio signal to communicate between the ring operating the system and the electrodes located on the strap.
For the moment, there are no plans to commercialize the technology, however, in light of the focus tech giants have placed on the wearable device category, and in particular on smart watches, SkinTrack has the potential to become a game-changer.
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