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Technology turns Arm into a Touchpad to control Smartwatch


A new technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University by the Human-Computer Interaction Institute’s Future Interfaces Group, enables users to turn their entire lower arm into a touchpad for controlling Smartwatches. This technology, called the SkinTrack allows continuous tracking on the hands and arms. It can detect touches at discrete locations on the skin, enabling functionality similar to buttons. The user wears only a signal- emitting ring which propagates an electromagnetic wave in the skin that can be localized with sensors worn on the wrist.

The biggest advantage of SkinTrack is that it is not obstructive. It provides a larger interface for the users compared to the Smartwatches and digital jewellery where the interaction area is small because most of the area is covered with finger. By using electrodes integrated into the watch’s strap, it’s possible to pinpoint the source of those electromagnetic waves because the phase of the waves will vary. Electrodes corresponding to the 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock positions on the watch, for instance, can detect phase differences that can determine the position of the finger along the width of the arm; electrodes at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions can determine the finger’s position along the length of the arm.

SkinTrack technology has various other functions such as a game controller, to scroll through lists on the Smartwatch, to zoom in and out of onscreen maps and to draw. A number pad application enabled users to use the back of the hand as a dial pad, hovering a finger over the hand as a cursor, highlighting numbers on the screen to aid in targeting touch points.

So far this wearable technology is safe. The radio frequency signal does not have an impact on the health of the user. Human body is accustomed to using daily appliances right from current drawn from the finger by touch screen to the electromagnetic noise from florescent lights with no ill effects.

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