"The smartwatch has an extremely small display," you've heard it said a time or two. This is one of the biggest drawbacks for those who don't see why they need a smartwatch over a smartphone or tablet. The Doppio Smartwatch is trying to meet this complaint with a solution that gives you two screens instead of one. That solution, though, isn't necessarily an appealing one for those that would rather have one large screen instead of two separate screens (keeping the two screen separate is nothing more than compounding the small screen problem twice). The SkinTrack Smartwatch is in its prototype stage currently, but it uses the skin on which to draw motions that are tracked and performed on the smartwatch itself.
Well, a new system calls WatchMI wants to take motion even further, but keep motion restricted to the device itself -- not the skin, and not with the addition of a second screen, but with the use of smartwatch motions that bring functionality access to you with just a swipe or a turn of the bezel, as well as "twisting the watch face, applying pressure to the screen, or by panning the watch to the right or left...twist to scroll across maps and to zoom in," says researchers out at the University of St. Andrews. The team behind WatchMI has also created sensors that can be applied to current smartwatches and allow them to operate in the same fashion, bringing WatchMI to more than just current prototypes that have the sensors built-in.
The reason behind the new WatchMI system pertains to the limitations placed upon touchscreen devices: because the general idea is to get consumers to touch the touchscreen, functions have been relegated to work only with touchscreen interaction. Creating ways to twist, pan, or turn the wrist and access the time or calendar, for example, provide users with everything they need on the wrist and make it fun to access information through normal human gestures.
Direct input with our smartphones or smartwatches allows many forms of interaction, however with small diminutive devices our fingers and hands get in the way, blocking our view of what is happening. WatchMI overcomes this problem and allows us to wear and interact with all the pixels on our body-worn devices, not just the ones our fingers aren't blocking,
says St. Andrews University School of Computer Science Human Computer Interaction Chair Professor Aaron Quigley.
Using body motions to access smartwatch-related functions is not something new, though: after all, Korean giant Samsung has been experimenting with such an idea in its Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic. These watches have become famous for the rotating bezel that works similarly to divers' watches from half a century ago in that turning the bezel can change your alarm, bring additional apps to the main screen, or scroll through a news article.
You can take a look at WatchMI in action via the YouTube video below.