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This New 'Skinterface' Could Make Smartwatches Suck Less

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If smartwatches are going to create a gadget future beyond smartphones, they’ll have to up their game. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon may have just the thing with a new smartwatch interface that uses that fleshy bezel right next to the typically tiny displays: your arm.

Called SkinTrack, this “whoa future” idea comes in two parts, a wristband laden with electrodes and a ring that emits a high-frequency AC signal. That signal then propagates through the skin, and the high-tech wrist band approximates its location. And just like that, a skinterface. The tech also works through clothing as well, and if you think bulky smart rings are dumb, just know the tech industry disagrees with you.

While the tech certainly is impressive, the limited functionality shown in the demo video doesn’t look quite as revolutionary as its obvious potential. The biggest argument the team from Carnegie Mellon’s Future Interfaces Group 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 for SkinTrack could be much more exciting.


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.