The Future Is Now: New Technology Can Now Turn Your Arm Into An Actual Touchpad

skintrack arm touchpad

YouTube - Future Interfaces Group

Is the touchscreen on your smartwatch a little too tiny for you? It can be kind of hard sometimes to navigate that itty, bitty screen isn’t it? Well, thanks to some scientists that may be all about to change.

The Future Interfaces Group, a research lab at Carnegie Mellon University, wants to make it so you don’t even have to touch your watch at all, because they want to turn your whole arm into a touchpad.

The technology they’re called Skintrack allows the user to navigate their smartwatch on their arm by simply wearing a ring and a sensor that is attached to the watch.

Reports The Verge

The system can sense continuous tracking, allowing you to doodle a picture for example. It can also sense discrete gestures like swipes or taps. The prototype built by the group as a proof of concept showed off a lot of interesting interactions. You can swipe up and down on your wrist to move between apps, then left or right to enter and exit a program. That is neat, but it basically just replicates what’s available already through your smartwatch screen.

The really cool stuff happens when you start using your skin as a canvas. You can drag apps off the watch and place them on parts of your arm, creating shortcuts back to the app. Put your Twitter app on your elbow, for example, and you can quickly access it with a tap on that spot from the finger wearing the ring. Adding all that new real estate as part of your touchscreen also opens up possibilities for the watch as a gaming device, for example a long pull on the slingshot in Angry Birds.

The watch can also recognize hot key commands. Trace an “N” on your hand to open up your news app, for example, or an “S” to silence a phone call. Skin and screen can also be used to indicate different modes, with a screen swipe performing a slow scroll through an address book, and a skin swipe activating a rapid scroll.

Unfortunately at this point in time there are no solid plans to market this tech commercially. They still have to work out how to keep the ring powered up for longer periods of time and there are some issues with perspiration and hydration that can cause glitches.

That being said, watching this demonstration below it doesn’t seem like they are too far off from making it something we all might be using in the very near future.

[The Verge]