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Google's new patent could turn your arm into your smartwatch's keyboard

A diagram from the Google patent. (Source: USPTO)
A diagram from the Google patent. (Source: USPTO)
Google has filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) that depicts motion sensors built into a smartwatch. They expand the wearable's range of user interface feedback to the device's immediate surroundings. In practice, this means the watch can turn part of the user's arm into a 'mousepad' to select letters while typing and for other similar actions.

Smartwatches are increasingly popular, and may be useful and enjoyable for some people. However, few users have probably liked the experience of trying to type on the screen of such a wearable, if indeed they have even ever attempted it. The devices are seldom amenable to such complex feedback from the touchscreen, especially if the user has particularly large fingers with which to unhelpfully obscure the relatively tiny display.

Google may have sought to address this problem through a patent dug up from the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) archives. It proposes the inclusion of motion sensors in a smartwatch, which can then detect the gestures and motions made to the immediate sides of the device. This could enable the watch to emulate a keyboard or keypad based on the corresponding touches made by the wearer on their watch arm. In other words, the arm would become a sort of touchpad for the smartwatch.

The patent may also allow for the projection of selectable characters or options onto the user's arm, so that it becomes a more accurate and usable keyboard. On the other hand, similar concepts have in fact been implemented into 'projector' smartwatches in the past. One example, the LumiWatch, had been received with epithets such as "terrible" in the media. Therefore, considering that the latest patent for Google's take on this technology is dated 2016, it may have given up on the idea altogether.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 12 > Google's new patent could turn your arm into your smartwatch's keyboard
Deirdre O Donnell, 2018-12- 2 (Update: 2018-12- 3)