A team of researchers has developed a smartwatch prototype that uses the wrist wearing the watch as an always-available joystick to perform touchscreen gestures with one-handed continuous input.
Checking email, tracking fitness and listening to music, are just a few things that a smartwatch can do but what if your hands aren't free?
WristWhirl is the answer.
While other studies have explored the use of one-handed continuous gestures using smartwatches, WristWhirl is the first to explore gestural input.
"This shows what smartwatches may be able to do in the future, by allowing users to interact with the device using one hand (the one that the watch is worn on) while freeing up the other hand for other tasks," said Xing-Dong Yang, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College.
To develop the WristWhirl prototype, researchers investigated the biomechanical ability of the wrist by tasking a small group of participants to conduct eight joystick-like gestures while standing and walking.
Participants wore the watch on their left wrist and were asked to use their wrist to make four directional marks similar to flicking a touch screen, and four free-form shapes, such as a triangle.
They were asked to make these gestures with their hand-up in front of their body during which they could see the gesture being drawn on the watch's screen, and with their hand-down alongside their body.
They were able to make directional marks at an average rate of half a second and free-form shapes at an average rate of approximately 1.5 seconds.
WristWhirl was built from a 2-inch TFT display and a plastic watch strap augmented with 12 infrared proximity sensors and a Piezo vibration sensor placed inside the wrist strap.
The project will be presented at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Tokyo on October 19.