Mobile Technology

Hopped-up smartwatches gain new powers

Hopped-up smartwatches gain ne...
A ViBand-equipped smartwatch communicates with a vibro-tagged glue gun, using bio-acoustic signals
A ViBand-equipped smartwatch communicates with a vibro-tagged glue gun, using bio-acoustic signals
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A ViBand-equipped watch is able to differentiate between actions such as finger flicks, scratching motions, or finger taps on the forearm, palm of the hand, or back of the hand
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A ViBand-equipped watch is able to differentiate between actions such as finger flicks, scratching motions, or finger taps on the forearm, palm of the hand, or back of the hand
ViBand can be used to tune an acoustic guitar
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ViBand can be used to tune an acoustic guitar
If the name sign on someone's office door was equipped with a vibro-tag, a ViBand user touching that sign would instantly receive that person's contact information on their watch's screen
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If the name sign on someone's office door was equipped with a vibro-tag, a ViBand user touching that sign would instantly receive that person's contact information on their watch's screen
A ViBand-equipped watch is able to recognize the distinct bio-acoustic signals produced by hand-held powered tools including drills, food mixers and electric toothbrushes
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A ViBand-equipped watch is able to recognize the distinct bio-acoustic signals produced by hand-held powered tools including drills, food mixers and electric toothbrushes
A ViBand-equipped smartwatch communicates with a vibro-tagged glue gun, using bio-acoustic signals
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A ViBand-equipped smartwatch communicates with a vibro-tagged glue gun, using bio-acoustic signals
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While we've already seen a number of interesting functions that can be performed by specially-designed prototype smartwatches, it's hard to say how many of those innovations will ever make their way into production. Now, however, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed the ViBand system, which allows existing watches to recognize gestures, and identify objects held in the user's hand.

The accelerometer in most smartwatches is set to take measurements about 100 times a second, which is sufficient for tasks such as detecting when the watch is being moved. As the Carnegie Mellon team discovered, though, using a software update to boost that sampling rate to 4,000 times a second lets the accelerometer act as a vibrational microphone. This means that it can detect sounds that travel through the user's body as vibrations, or "bio-acoustic signals."

By analyzing the unique characteristics of those signals, the watch is thus able to differentiate between actions such as finger flicks, scratching motions, or finger taps on the forearm, palm of the hand, or back of the hand. Each action can thus be used to perform a certain task, such as scrolling through menus, making selections, or even controlling connected appliances such as lamps or TVs.

A ViBand-equipped watch is able to recognize the distinct bio-acoustic signals produced by hand-held powered tools including drills, food mixers and electric toothbrushes
A ViBand-equipped watch is able to recognize the distinct bio-acoustic signals produced by hand-held powered tools including drills, food mixers and electric toothbrushes

Additionally, the accelerometer is also able to recognize the distinct bio-acoustic signals produced by hand-held powered tools including drills, food mixers and electric toothbrushes. While this feature might initially just seem to be a clever parlour trick, it does have practical applications.

Recipes displayed on mobile device screens, for instance, could let users know when they've blended the ingredients for long enough. The technology can even identify notes played on an acoustic guitar, so it could serve to guide users through the tuning of their instruments.

ViBand can be used to tune an acoustic guitar
ViBand can be used to tune an acoustic guitar

Of course, not everything that users touch is going to be vibrating – at least, not in its regular form. With that in mind, the team created buzzing "vibro-tags" that can be integrated into such items. If the name sign on someone's office door was equipped with a vibro-tag, for instance, a ViBand user touching that sign would instantly receive that person's contact information on their watch's screen. Alternately, a vibro-tagged glue gun could inform users of its present glue temperature.

For more examples of possible uses of the ViBand system, check out the following video.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

ViBand: High-Fidelity Bio-Acoustic Sensing Using Commodity Smartwatch Accelerometers

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1 comment
Dustin
I can't help but notice the fact his watch screen is upside down.