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Skin Turned Into Touchpad with New Technology

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:04AM

I am not sure if this was in any work of science fiction first, but it does leave me feeling like science fiction is becoming reality. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a way to effectively turn the skin on your arm and hand into a touchscreen. This would allow someone to interface with a smartwatch, or other devices, without having to cover the small screen with their fingers.

Other 'skin to screen' tracking systems have been developed before, but those required special overlays, textiles, and combinations of projectors and cameras to work, which is hardly ideal. This system, called SkinTrack, uses pairs of electrodes and a ring for someone to wear on their finger. This ring emits a low-energy, high-frequency signal that propagates across the skin when the finger touches it, or is just close to it. The electrodes pick up this signal and can triangulate the finger's location from differences in the signal's phase. Different locations and movements can then be used as various inputs for a device, such as scrolling, highlighting buttons, and even hitting shortcuts.

The researchers found the system could identify when the finger was touching with 99% accuracy and had an error of 7.6 mm for the location of the finger. Over time this precision can drop though, as the conductivity of the skin can change due to sweat and hydration, as well as body movements. Another issue is that the ring will lose power eventually. Still, this is pretty cool and could definitely lead to advances for smartwatches and other pieces of advanced technology.



Source: Carnegie Mellon University

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