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Rotating keyboard lets you ‘type’ on your watch

Researchers have designed a rotating keyboard, called COMPASS, that lets users “type” text into smartwatches without a touchscreen interface.

Entering text on smartwatches is currently quite difficult, especially on those without a virtual keyboard.

COMPASS keyboard for smartwatches
The COMPASS smartwatch keyboard. (Credit: Stony Brook U.)

COMPASS is a text entry method that is based in the bezel of the watch, allowing the user to rotate three cursors that will enable them to select which letter they want to type. After selecting their letter, the locations of the cursors are then dynamically optimized to reduce the distance of the next rotation.

This is similar to the predictive typing that most users would be familiar with on their smartphones, but allows a comparable method to be applied to smartwatches for the first time.

The researchers evaluated the performance of COMPASS with a series of user studies, which revealed that with 90 minutes of practice, users increased their typing speed from 10 wpm (words per minute) to 12.5 wpm.

Device turns your arm into a smartwatch touchpad

As stated in the research paper outlining the COMPASS design and implementation, an advantage of the circular layout is that unlike conventional QWERTY keyboards T9 keyboards (the keyboard on the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch), is that it allows the remaining screen area to be in a round shape. Therefore, the screen contents can be scaled to fit in the inner area without changing the look-and-feel.

The study’s coauthors are from Stony Brook University, Tsinghua University (Beijing), the Key Laboratory of Pervasive Computing, and the Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology.

Source: Stony Brook University