One of the downsides of smartwatches is their minuscule screens, which makes their user interface challenging and often difficult to read. Meanwhile, smartphones are only getting bigger, to the point where a 5-inch screen is considered tiny.
The result is that as advanced as smartwatches are, they still lack a few basic functions that every smartphone has — such as a keyboard.
But do not worry. It looks like Samsung has a smartwatch solution to address its current lack of keyboard.
Recently, they filed a patent application for a smartwatch that will project a virtual user interface on the wearer’s hand, forearm, or arm.
Maximizing the smartwatch’s capabilities
In the U.S. patent application, there are several examples of the solutions that the projector smartwatch will provide, such as projecting a map, keyboard, or keypad on the wearer’s hand using a laser projector.
Alternatively, the smartwatch would also project touch-sensitive “buttons” onto the wearer’s hand, forearm, or length of the arm that could provide larger and more intuitive menus and enhance the user’s interaction with the watch.
The patent features technology based on a slew of image sensors that will allow the watch to understand which button the user is “pressing” along with an image projector that will display a virtual user interface via laser onto the wearer’s hand.
The advantages of projector smartwatches are quite clear as they can provide the user with additional space, making for a more comfortable interaction with the smartwatch. This is an attempt to bridge the functionality gap between the smartwatch and the smartphone.
In addition to projecting the virtual UI on the wearer’s hand, the futuristic device could also display its content on walls, screens, or virtual reality headsets.
However, like any patent, it may not come into fruition. At this point, it is mainly a declaration of intent by Samsung to protect the concept from being stolen by competitors.
That being said
Samsung is not the first company to present a concept similar the projector watch. In 2014, it was Ritot that came out with an Indiegogo campaign to launch a smart bracelet that would project the time on a wearer’s wrist. Of course, this feature is a bit less advanced than Samsung’s, but it is based on the same idea.
Towards the end of 2015, it was NEC that presented the ARm Keypad, an unconventional keyboard interface that allows a user to type directly on his arm. The system is comprised of VR glasses that will display the virtual keyboard and a smartwatch that detects your typing speed.
While the company indicated that the product is not just a concept and is expected to hit stores in 2016, the smart keyboard is still out of sight.