Dartmouth College aims to eliminate technical and practical barriers of smartwatches

Wrist movements can be used to quickly enter text into a smartwatch, researchers say.

Researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire say they have solved technical and practical barriers that are holding back growth of the smartwatch market.

A team will unveil its developmental smartwatch technology, WrisText and Jetto, at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2018), a Canadian trade show dedicated to discussing interactive technology.

Xing-Dong Yang, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth, said: “Our aim is to eliminate the technical and practical barriers that keep people from using wearable devices. We look forward to presenting the future of this technology at CHI2018.”

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“Watches are becoming more commonly used for text entry, but the process can still be awkward. WrisText provides an alternative for text entry that is quick, convenient and effective,” said Yang.

WrisText allows users to compose text messages on a smartwatch without physically typing on the touchscreen interface, enabling easy-use with one hand.

By moving the wrist in different directions a user can answer a question with a quick yes or no. The device is also designed to send a more complex sentence. The organisation has stated that, while users found that entering text was difficult to learn at first, participants in a study became proficient with the system after only a few days.

The watch features a round face with an alphabetical keyboard that was found to be the most comfortable and accurate layout for wrist movement. An augmented wristband uses proximity and vibration sensors to transfer natural wrist motions into text entry.

Dartmouth’s second smartwatch offering, Jetto, is designed to provide a more immersive interaction experience for gamers, movie watchers and other smartwatch users by allowing wearers to feel when virtual objects collide within the smartwatch.

While in an early stage of development, this technical achievement provides lateral force feedback that allows wearers to experience forces that impact the sides of a watch.

“Jetto mixes the physical and virtual worlds in a smartwatch,” said Yang. “This mixed-reality experience leverages the unique quality of wearables to connect what users see to what they can feel.”

The watch innovations will be demonstrated during the event in Montreal, Canada running from April 21 to 26.

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