New smartwatch controls involving twisting, tilting and clicking the screen demoed on prototype

A smartwatch prototype has been developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University which expands the UI possibilities beyond a touchscreen interface. This unique smartwatch control system turns the watch face into a joystick which allows movements such as twists, tilts and clicks.

Demonstration of Controls

Demonstration of  Movements

Although touchscreens have been favoured over clickable keyboards on smartphones, when it comes to small gadgets, it can often be fiddly and frustrating for the user due to the size of the screens in ratio to their fingers.

“It’s not that these watches aren’t fast enough or even have enough battery life—it’s that we can’t get the input and output good enough,” says assistant professor of human-computer interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, Chris Harrison.

Compared to most smartwatches out there that employs a small touchscreen display, this moveable smartwatch screen is said to make it easier for users to execute tasks such as reading a map or playing games on their device.

By using the watch face that has a “multi-degree-of-freedom mechanical interface,” users will be able to physically tilt, click and twist the watch’s bezel. The prototype shown in the video below uses a 1.5-inch LCD screen mounted on a set of joysick sensors, the component which make it possible to create these gestures, which sits in front of an ARM processor.

As you can see, the video demonstrates the watch’s interaction with a range of apps. Applications such as moving and zooming around a map, and clicking the face to take a photo shows that the new controls can prevail the small form factor and input restriction on smartwatch controls today.

The researchers also mentioned that they tried to stick to certain rules when creating the prototype in order to make users feel most comfortable. These include making sure that the device doesn’t feel cramped to use, and that users won’t have to lift their fingers from the screen whilst operating the device.

Benefits from the new controls ranges vastly from easier access to different apps to keeping a clean watch face. We are not saying that this proof-of-concept smartwatch is faultless, but it sure illustrates the potential in application for future wearable devices.

Kai-Li Yang

Kai-Li is a tech enthusiast with an in-depth knowledge of mobile technology, music technology and the entertainment industry. She hails from Taiwan and helps Tech Assimilate to erm... assimilate, all the latest tech news and trends from East Asia. Kai-Li Yang on Google+

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