Skin Buttons: Real Projection Watch Out of Carnegie Mellon

Skin Buttons: Real Projection Watch Out of Carnegie Mellon

While we were at UIST, we got to see some pretty amazing interactive technologies. Among them was Skin Buttons, a projection watch that uses a combination of lasers and photo diodes to bring content out of the watch and onto your body. You may remember a very recent post that showcased an Indiegogo campaign for a concept projection watch, which received its fair share of controversy for their overwhelming use of concept imagery. Well, Skin Buttons is an actual working prototype (we got to try it can vouch for it). Though at an early research stage, the applications include sliding through notifications, answering the phone and launching your text messaging app, all with touch based input on your wrist and palm! Pretty nifty.

The technology was created by, Gierad Laput, Robert Xiao, Anthony Chen, Chris Harrison and Scott Hudson. Truly magical!

The abstract, in their own words:

“Smartwatches are a promising new interactive platform, but their small size makes even basic actions cumbersome. Hence, there is a great need for approaches that expand the interactive envelope around smartwatches, allowing human input to escape the small physical confines of the device. We propose using tiny projectors integrated into the smartwatch to render icons on the user’s skin. These icons can be made touch sensitive, significantly expanding the interactive region without increasing device size. Through a series of experiments, we show that these “skin buttons” can have high touch accuracy and recognizability, while being low cost and power-efficient.”

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Rajinder Sodhi
I design, research and tinker with new sensing and display techniques (like projection mapping) to make our interactions with computers feel more natural! I've worked for Walt Disney Imagineering and Microsoft Research and made things along the way like Aireal and RoomAlive. Check em' out at rsodhi.com, @lumenra.