Skintrack: The future is here

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Future Interfaces Group has successfully found a way to turn human skin into an actual, working touchscreen.

The group came up with the idea after realizing a problem all too common among small gadgets, such as digital jewelries and smartwatches — screens that are far too puny in size. The researchers wrote,

“Small wearable devices — such as smartwatches and digital jewelry — are fast becoming viable computing platforms … however, their small size severely limits the user experience.”

The technology that the group came up with, called the ‘Skintrack’, aims to dissolve this problem by using high-frequency sensors that are able to detect touch motions outside the perimeter of the gadget’s actual screen.

Skintrack’s impressive technology is achieved with the help of two components: a sensing wristband, and a ring that emits signal. The movements being made by its user’s ring-wearing finger is tracked using electrodes placed in the sensing wristband.

The group has high hopes for Skintrack — a technology that is first of its kind. According to them,

“Our approach is compact, non-invasive, low-cost and low-powered. We envision the technology being integrated into future smartwatches, supporting rich touch interactions beyond the confines of the small touchscreen.”

The device makes use of the human skin as an electrical conduit, sending high-frequency electrical signal from its signal-emitting ring to its sensing wristband — which, in turn, processes the signals sent to it and converts them into information that will help the device understand its user’s notion -–– much like how touchscreen signals work on the regular touchscreen devices.

Just like regular touchscreen devices, Skintrack also recognizes notions such as swiping, tapping, and those considered as spatial gestures.

The technology is not yet available in the market today, but it is definitely something users can look forward to in the near future.