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You Are the Smartphone

By: Bryan

Want to know what it’s like for your arm to be a smart device? Well now you just might be able to.

Currently, Smartwatches don’t really have much use. The screens are too small, and scrolling and swiping is far too difficult, as your finger blocks whatever you’re trying to tap. These combined issues means you can’t send text messages using your smartwatch, nor play any games.

However, some designers at Carnegie Mellon have found a way to project the user interface onto your arm. The new tech is called SkinTrack, and shows how your arm might function as a touchscreen in the future.

In a demo video, a finger can swipe and poke skin just like you can with a regular touchscreen. The cursor reacts to movement on the smartwatch screen, and there is little lag between your finger’s movement and movement on the screen. The method used is unique, and is something that hasn’t been seen before. Instead of using a camera to track movement, there is a ring that sends out a signal to your finger. Once your finger touches your arm, the signal travels along your skin to a wristband. The signals are measured, and thus can be used to determine the position of your finger.

A couple of basic applications of the tech were shown. The team played Angry Birds using the SkinTracker, and another showed the user making shortcuts to apps.

For now, the tech isn’t quite ready for consumers. SkinTrack must be calibrated individually to each user, because electricity travels through everybody differently. The system may work better once the projection can give back visual feedback, but it was said that this kind of tech is still years away. However, this is already a huge step forward in using the human body as your interface, and will eventually lead to some quite incredible tech.


About Bryan Wu

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