Maybe This New ‘Skinterface’ Will Make Smartwatches Actually Useful

Maybe This New ‘Skinterface’ Will Make Smartwatches Actually Useful

If smartwatches are going to create a new gadget future beyond smartphones, they will have to up their game. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon may have just the innovation with a new smartwatch interface that takes advantage of the fleshy bezels surrounding the tiny watch displays — also known as your arm.

Called SkinTrack, this “whoa future” concept has two components: a wristband laden with electrodes, and a ring that emits a high-frequency AC signal. The ring’s signal propagates through your skin, and the high-tech wrist band senses the signal and is able to approximate its origin point. Just like that — skin display.

The tech also works through clothing as well, just in case you’re wearing sleeves. (If you don’t think you’d ever wear a bulky smart ring, just know that the tech industry disagrees with you.)

This project was developed by Carnegie Mellon’s Future Interfaces Group, and while the tech is impressive, the demo’s more interesting for its possibilities than what the limited prototype can actually do. The smartest argument the team makes is that smartwatch displays are too small to be very useful. While certainly true, it’s more than enough space for swiping and flicking, which is basically all this skin interface can do — for now. Throw in some more complex, multi-finger gestures and applications could be even greater.

Regardless, if the next Apple Watch had this tech, I’d buy it just out of morbid curiosity, and I have a feeling I’m not the only one.