This giant smartwatch prototype has a shape-deforming backplate

by admin October 23, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Smartwatches are not an easy format for interaction designers. Their tiny screens and lack of buttons make it hard to give the user smart options in how to interact with the technology.

But interaction designers at Dartmouth College believe that they might have a solution. They’ve developed a smartwatch that lets users feel virtual objects, courtesy of a shape-shifting backplate.

In a concept device that’s been named “RetroShape”, every pixel on the screen has a corresponding tactile pixel (or taxel) on the rear. That means that programmers can use the wearer’s skin underneath the watch to “feel” what’s happening on-screen.

Sixteen independently-moving pins allow for shapes and movement to be rendered. The prototype is clunky and comes with a bundle of wires attached, but the technology could easily be improved and miniaturised if it became part of a commercial product.