Smartwatches may be handy – to some – and can be awkward to use with our big ol' fingers. With this in mind, a computer scientist at Germany's Saarland University created a system known as DeformWear.
It allows users to control a linked smartwatch by using their fingertips to finely press, pinch or push a wearable sensor that is about the size of a pea. So far the DeformWear gadget has been integrated into a ring, a bracelet and a pendant. WIthin this half-sphere rubber button is an infrared LED that emits light onto the inside surface of the sphere, along with four photodiodes that detect and measure the light as it is reflected back from that surface. When the rubber sphere's deformed by a finger, it causes a change in the way that the light is reflected. The photodiodes detect such changes and use them to identify the manner in which the sphere is being deformed.
The Saarland research team has already used the technology to control not only a smartwatch but also a set of virtual reality goggles and a TV.
"When only a tiny sensor needs to be deformed for input, mobile devices can be worn at places on the body that enable quick and discreet input," says study leader Prof. Jürgen Steimle. "This will help the industry bring even smaller control devices to the market."
You can see a demonstration of the DeformWear in the video below: