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Researchers Try New 'twist' on Smartwatches

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This prototype smartwatch gives users more input options by being able to tilt, click or twist its face.

This prototype smartwatch can be controlled by twisting, panning in two directions, tilting, or clicking its face.

Credit: Chris Harrison/Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed a prototype smartwatch that can be controlled by twisting, panning in two dimensions, tilting, or clicking its face. Users also would be able to interact with the display in more ways to move and zoom around a map, snap a photo, or adjust the volume.

A demo on YouTube shows how the prototype can be used to play the first-person shooter "Doom."

The prototype, which was exhibited at the recent ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Toronto, is billed as a way to overcome the small form factor and input limitations on standard smartwatches.

"Since our fingers are large, and people want smartwatches to be small, we have to go beyond traditional input techniques," notes Gierad Laput, a Ph.D. student at CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute. "Digitizing watchface mechanical movements offers expressive interaction capabilities without occluding the screen. It is a simple yet clever idea, and it is easy to implement." Laput says additional input options could include three-dimensional pan, yaw, and pitch and roll.

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