Innovation That Matters

Wearable turns skin into interactive touchscreen


Research at Carnegie Mellon is using electrodes to extend smart watch touchscreens across the surface of the surrounding skin.


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We’ve seen how smart device control is growing more varied, and systems have enabled finger-angling and kicking for control. Now, SkinTrack enables the skin around smart watches to be used as a touchscreen.

Continuous touch skin tracking is made possible using electric field technology. A wearable ring emits a signal that is received by two pairs of electrodes mounted on the smart watch’s strap. By reading a phase difference between these two electrode pairs, the device can follow a finger as it glides across the skin or hovers above it. The software can be combined with smart watch APIs to control apps, using actions on the skin to scroll, select, dial numbers or draw. SkinTrack was developed at Carnegie Mellon University by PhD student Gierad Laput.

Could SkinTrack software be used to control wearables that don’t have screens, or open up greater interactivity with the growing number of IoT devices?

Email: gierad.laput@cs


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