New Wearable Tech: On-Body Input and Pop-out Earpieces

This week I’ve seen two wearable device concepts which I really like: extending the input space using the arm and detachable ear-pieces letting the device be used for phone calls. The first is demonstrated in the following tweet, showing an excerpt from a patent application attributed to Google:

Here the arm is used for extra input space, keeping the small display entirely visible during interaction. This style of input is similar to SideSight [1], a research prototype which used proximity sensors on the side of a phone to detect pointer input beside the device. I like the idea of interacting on the arm rather than in the space around the watch (e.g. Abracadabra [2]) because tactile cues from pressing against your own body could make it easier to interact [3].

Huawei’s new wearable wristband features a pop-out earpiece (the display) which lets you use your phone without taking it out of your pocket. While this is hardly a groundbreaking idea (it’s basically a bluetooth headset that you don’t wear on your head), it at least justifies using a wearable to give you incoming call alerts. While Pebble, for example, gives call notifications on the watch display, you’d have to take your phone out of your pocket to use it anyway.

[1] Butler, A., Izadi, S. and Hodges, S.: SideSight: Multi-“touch” Interaction Around Small Devices. In Proc. of UIST ’08 (2008), p. 201-204.
[2] Harrison, C. and Hudson, S.: Abracadabra: Wireless, High-Precision, and Unpowered Finger Input for Very Small Mobile Devices. In Proc. of UIST ’09(2009), p. 121-124.
[3] Gustafson, S., Rabe, B. and Baudisch, P.: Understanding Palm-Based Imaginary Interfaces: The Role of Visual and Tactile Cues when Browsing. In Proc. of CHI ’13 (2013), p. 889-898.

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