New technology lets you control smartwatch using breath and skin

Whoosh lets users reject or answer calls by shushing or blowing at the device.


With advances in connectivity and computing, smartwatches have redefined the way we access data and produce information. While the smartwatch phenomenon first began in 2015, today the trend is in full swing. Moreover, it looks like 2017 is going to be a big year for smartwatches as many companies are bound to release improved versions of their devices.

Also with the proliferation of technology who knows we could see smartwatches with some added and enhanced features that would leave us awestruck.

New technology lets you control smartwatch using breath and skin


That being said, Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US have in fact created Whoosh, a technique that allows a person to control the smartwatch by blowing, exhaling, shushing, sipping or puffing on the screen. Basically, you can now take calls by simply blowing at your smartwatch.

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Sounds amazing right! So if you are wondering how does this work then, the research report reveals that the smartwatch uses its microphone and machine learning to identify the breath patterns of each acoustic event, and then assigns an action to each. For example, a wearer can shush the watch to ignore a call or blow on it twice to accept. The watch can also be locked or unlocked using a correct combination of short or long breaths.

In addition, you can do more. While voice recognition may sometimes produce incorrect words when dictating a text message, blowing quickly on the watch can also erase words, while blowing on it longer will send the text message when ready. The technique also works with smartphones. A user can transfer content from the smartwatch to a smartphone simply by sipping it off the watch and puffing it on the phone. The technology could have the potential for people with disabilities, researchers said.


This is only one of the recent innovations in the smartwatch domain. In fact, another new interaction technique WatchOut has also been developed and instead of the controlling your smartwatch with your breath, this technique uses taps and scrolling gestures on the case and watchband, outside the watch screen. So users can control the actions in the smartwatch by making use of the smartwatch's gyroscope and accelerometer sensors.

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"Other techniques that improve control of smartwatches have included 3D gestures above the screen, bigger screens or adding an extra armband," said Cheng Zhang, a Ph.D. student at Georgia Tech. "We wanted to show it could be done with existing technology already common on today's devices," said Zhang.

The study conducted by Zhang and the others further show that scrolling on rubber watchbands was more accurate than leather bands due to the different friction of the materials. They have also created an app that can create eight touchpoints on the device's bezel. Rather than scrolling through a long list of apps, the user simply hits one of eight spots on the case to launch Facebook, for example

"We have created a technique that allows the user to tap the watch to accept or deny phone calls. Hitting the right side answers the call; the left side ignores it," he said. And things just don't end there. The researchers have developed feature known as TapSkin and this allows users to tap on the back of their hand to input numbers 0-9 or commands. The technique uses the watch's microphone and inertial sensors to detect a total of 11 different tapping locations on a person's skin around the watch.

You can read the research paper HERE.

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