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Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a device that responds to motion.

Though touchscreens have revolutionized how users interface with smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets, they are not always suited for devices with small screens like a smartwatch, for example.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a prototype smartwatch that can be controlled through different types of movements, such as tilting, twisting, and clicking.

The smartwatch prototype that the team created supports 2D panning and twist, and binary tilt and click. Its main components include a 1.5 inch LCD color display, an ARM processor, and a pair of Hall-effect joystick sensors that capture 2D movements. The configuration of the components allows users to pan the display, as well as twist, tilt, and click. The device is connected to a host computer that is running a program which processes the inputs and runs an app on the smartwatch.

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The research group has developed a series of applications to illustrate how their project can expand the functions of a smartwatch. The team created a map application to demonstrate the 2D panning and zoom functions of their prototype. Pushing on the watch face pans the map and users can apply varying force to control the speed of the panning and zooming.

The research team also created a watch application to demonstrate how twisting and clicking can set the time or an alarm. They also created a camera application that uses the twist-and-click motion to zoom the camera and snap photos.

To demonstrate four-way navigation, the team created a music application and users can pan to the right or left to browse menu items and scroll through lists. Users can also twist the watch to adjust the volume, and click to play or pause music tracks.

The team posted a video that shows how a user can interact with the prototype smartwatch. The video also shows the user play the video game Doom, which the researchers ported into the watch to demonstrate its potential for gaming.

The researcher team, which includes Human-Computer Interaction assistant professor Chris Harrison and his colleagues Robert Xiao and Gierad Laput, is part of the Future Interfaces Group, an interdisciplinary research laboratory within the university’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. They presented a paper on the project at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems held recently in Toronto.

Watch the video below to see the smartwatch prototype work.

FIG Lab
[h/t] Technology Review

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