New Control Techniques Add Versatility to Smartwatches
February 3, 2017 Leave a comment
Smartwatches are cool, but they’ve been slower to catch on than smartphones because they’re not the most convenient way to interact with a device. Their small size can make it hard to use them with maps or complex menus, limiting their value compared to a regular sized phone. Plus, if you have your hands full when you get a call, it’s hard to do anything about it.
But technology is constantly evolving, and smartwatches are no different. Researchers at Georgia Tech have been working on several different projects that can make using smartwatches easier, allowing them to provide more robust user experiences.
One project, called WatchOut, uses scrolling and swiping gestures to improve control, which might sound pretty typical, except with this system you don’t swipe and scroll on the watch’s screen—you use the band. Using the built in gyroscopes and accelerometers of such watches, engineers were able to develop a system that gives users more control while not having to worry about hitting the wrong button with their fingers.
Then there’s Whoosh, which allows users to control their phones by breathing on them. Shushing the watch can decline a call, while blowing on it twice can accept. A sequence of short and long breaths can be used to unlock the device, while different breath techniques can be used to erase words in a text message or to send it. You can even move an app from your phone to your watch by “sipping it off the watch and puffing it on the phone.”
And don’t forget TapSkin, which allows users to use the back of their hand as a number pad, sending commands to the watch based on where the user taps. These aren’t “theoretical” developments either; they’ve all be designed, tested, and shown at a number of conferences. They all make use of existing technology, which means that these options could be hitting the market in the near future.