Smartwatch CMU

Smartwatch Design Frees up its Limitations and Size

April 30, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Carnegie Mellon University is right down the highway from me in Pittsburgh and they do some of the most cutting-edge engineering and inventing in the world.  It seems that they have set their sights on an item well-known by us all – the smartwatch.  This wearable device has really taken off this past year with just about every manufacturer taking a stab at their own version.  Some smartwatches are mere timepieces that digitize everything from the time to alarm clock/timer, chronograph, etc. while others add Bluetooth or Wi-Fi so that they can receive notifications from our smartphones.  Others take it a bit further and even allow you to answer your phone calls through the watch.

Their biggest drawback is their size – after all, this is a device that must fit comfortably on your wrist – and this size limits the normal smartwatch’s functionality.  This will no longer be a barrier any longer if the working design concept developed at Carnegie Mellon can be manufactured into a marketable device.  They have designed a smartwatch whose face is the equivalent to a small ‘joystick’ that can be tilted, rotated or twist, pan-in and pan-out, and even clicked.  It works much like my ThinkPad’s little ‘joystick,’ only instead of moving a cursor around, it is allowing you to navigate around the user interface of the smartwatch.

Trying to navigate with a fat finger on a small face of a watch is very frustrating and limiting in what you can do and see with your finger in the way.  However, by grabbing the sides of the watch face and twisting, tilting or clicking it becomes a breeze.  Instead of trying to pinch and zoom with your fingers on that small surface, you could pan in or out on a map, for instance, just by panning the watch head, never losing sight of the map.  Navigation through a music player to select a playlist or particular artist or song is all of a sudden possible on a smartwatch.  The video even shows them playing a version of Doom on the device.

Take a look at the short video to see just what a smartwatch could be capable of achieving in the near future. This design would really take the concept of a smartwatch to a whole new level of practicality and entertainment. Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you are excited about the possibilities of a future smartwatch with this type of functionality – would something like this finally force you to make the move to purchasing a smartwatch…as always, we love to hear from you.