Who needs an iPad when you have your arm? A new wearable ring turns the surface of your forearm or hand into a touchpad.
SkinTrack, developed by students at Carnegie Mellon University, is meant for people wearing smartwatches, and could be used to control functions on the watch without having to type on a teeny-tiny screen.
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When the banded finger touches the skin on the forearm or hand, low-energy, high-frequency electrical signal transmits through the person's skin. Four electrodes in the watch would pick up the signal and pinpoint the finger with almost 100 percent precision.
That information could then be translated by a computer and turned into an input signal. Your finger is all you would need to swipe a screen, dial a phone number or control an avatar in a game.
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For example, the researchers showed that a number pad application would allow users to punch in numbers on the back of their hand; hovering a finger over the hand acts as a cursor.
At the moment, there are limitations, namely keeping the device powered. Body temperature and sweat can also interfere with the signal, so the band is far from perfect.
But the team was curious about whether they could find a way to overcome some of the limitations that smartwatches present.
"Not only is the interaction area small, but your finger actually blocks much of the screen when you're using it," Ph.D. student Gierad Laput said in a press statement.
The team plans to demonstrate their technology next weeks at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing, in San Jose, Calif.