Turn your arm into a smartwatch

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A team of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new wearable technology that can turn your lower arm into a smartwatch touchpad. Called “SkinTrack” and developed by the Human-Computer Interaction Institute’s Future Interfaces Group, the new system allows for continuous touch tracking on the hands and arms.

By using electrodes integrated into the watch’s strap, it’s possible to pinpoint the source of those electromagnetic waves because the phase of the waves will vary. The researchers found that they could determine when the finger was touching the skin with 99 percent accuracy and resolve the location of the touches with a mean error of 7.6 millimeters. That compares well with other on-body finger-tracking systems and approaches touchscreen-like accuracy. The researchers showed that “SkinTrack” can be used as a game controller, to scroll through lists on the smartwatch, to zoom in and out of onscreen maps and to draw.

A number pad application enabled users to use the back of the hand as a dial pad for the onscreen number pad – hovering a finger over the hand acts as a cursor, highlighting numbers on the screen to aid in targeting touch points.

The technology is set to be showcased in California next month.