Smartwatches revolutionized the technology market when they first appeared, yet limited space on the small screens became a problem for consumers. A team of researchers might have solve this issue. SkinTrack is a touch interface that allows consumers to expand the touch screen of the smartwatch into their own arms. So from now on, smartwatch users won’t be limited to the screen of their smartwatch.

The device was created by researchers at the  Future Interfaces Group from the Carnegie Mellon University They focused on bettering human-computer interactions and making them more approachable.

Cricet Bracelet vs. Skin Track
Wearable devices trend is being taken to the next level with the visualization of ‘cicret‘, a bracelet that projects the screen of smarthpones directly onto people’s wrist. Now Skin Track takes that approach on smart watches. Credit: Design Boom

Translating touch interface into the human body

The device named SkinTrack enables touch tracking into the human skin. It is conformed by a ring for the consumer to use on the hand that will be performing the interactions with the smartwatch.

The ring emits what the team calls a ‘continuous high frequency AC signal’ that is received by a sensing wristband with a set of electrodes.  Therefore allowing the touch interface to expand all along the human arm.

The Future Interfaces Group describes the technology as a wearable, low cost, touch tracking technique.  Mainly too be used on smartsmartwatcheswatches technology. It’s worth noticing the main objective was to expand the limitations the smartwatch screen provided.

The technology works in the human skin even when is covered with clothes or fabric, as long as the signal-emitting ring is working correctly.

Multiple interactions modalities

The developed technology is able to support what the team calls “read gestures” that include directional swipes. In addition, it also includes discrete touch and continuous tracking on the skin.

As seen above, a demonstration on how Skin Track would allow people to get out from the smart watches' screen without losing the touch-interface. Image Credit: CMU
As seen above, a demonstration on how Skin Track would allow people to get out from the smart watches’ screen without losing the touch-interface. Image Credit: CMU

To prove the technology, the researcher team created their own smartwatch to give a better understanding of the technology. With the multiple interactions modalities users can now navigate the applications contained on the smartwatch while scrolling on  their hand. The reading gestures allow the user to right-swipe if an application is to be selected. It also allow users to scroll vertically touching their hand instead of the small touchscreen.

Also, the touchscreen and the consumer’s skin work simultaneously, this allows users to pin applications into their arm for example.  Or dial a phone number in their hand since the small screen doesn’t allow that much space.

Even though this SkinTracker is only a prototype of the technology, researchers assure their non-invasive and low-cost technology could be perfectly integrated to future smartwatches.

Source: Fig Lab