Smartwatches have been on the market for a few years now, though they've just started taking off within the last year or so. At any rate, it seems as though smartwatches aren't getting any smarter than they were 3 years ago, with manufacturers committing to them mostly for the sake of notifications, calls, and text messages. A new prototype prepared by Carnegie Mellon University's Future Interfaces Group shows that the solution to smartwatch capability enhancement may come from the skin, not necessarily the wrist.
SkinTrack is aptly named: what it is and what it can do
The new smartwatch prototype, called SkinTrack, does what the name suggests: it lets you use motion tracking on the skin to perform functions on a smartwatch. You can draw an "N" to launch News, or an "A" to launch your smartwatch address book, or an "S" to silence an incoming call. The SkinTrack prototype can maintain motion tracking on the smartwatch screen by connecting to the skin in order to note something as simple as a phone call, or a skin scrolling motion when scrolling through a phone contact list or series of text messages with one particular individual. Directional swipes on the skin are also supported with SkinTrack, letting you do something as simple as move apps off-screen and bring them back on again by using your skin as an extension of the smartwatch display.
If this sounds cool, things get even better when you see that SkinTrack can also scroll through music tracks, app selection, and even use the skin as a controller in playing games such as Flappy Bird on the wrist (c'mon, you know you've always wanted to do this!).
How is SkinTrack made possible?
SkinTrack is made possible by way of a sensing ring that notes the movement of the finger the ring is located on, as well as a sensing band that can be worn under the smartwatch. It's a fairly inexpensive build that could revolutionize smartwatches and accommodate the small-screen limitations of smartwatches -- perhaps bringing them on par with smartphones in some things (though not all).
To learn more, you should see this in action by way of Future Interfaces Group's SkinTrack video and check out the SkinTrack screenshots below.
Is SkinTrack something you'd like to see implemented in smartwatches in the future? Do you think that it needs some work in its current form? Would you like to see Samsung, Apple, or Google adopt this for its next-generation smartwatches, or do you think we're some years away from seeing SkinTrack in a mass-produced form?