The smartwatch hasn't exactly taken the world by storm, but it still has a chance to catch on. Especially if the SkinTrack takes off, and turns your entire arm into a smartwatch peripheral. The idea behind the SkinTrack is to use the invitingly available surface of your arm in lieu of the tiny smartwatch screen. Increasing the surface in a non-obtrusive manner opens a whole realm of possibilities for the future of smartwatches.

Developed by Carnegie Melon's Future Interfaces Group, the SkinTrack only needs two small additions: a band and a ring. The band goes around the watch while the ring goes on your finger. When you move your finger on or close to the surface of your skin, the ring emits a low-energy, high-frequency signal.

This signal is tracked by the band, which determines the location of your finger in relation to the watch. The result? The surface of your arm turns into a makeshift touchscreen.

Tiny screen, big arm

One of the biggest problems the smartwatch must overcome is also its biggest draw: its size. The small screen makes it ideal for a wearable, but it also limits interactivity. Gierad Laput, a member of the research team behind the device, points out in a press release: “Not only is the interaction area small, but your finger actually blocks much of the screen when you’re using it. Input tends to be pretty basic, confined to a few buttons or some directional swipes.”

The SkinTrack keeps your fingers off the watch screen, leaving the screen open for visual output. This makes it ideal for use as a game controller, a quick zoom, or even for drawing.

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Not perfect yet

Don't take out your wallets just yet - the SkinTrack is not quite perfect yet. While the technology behind the SkinTrack device is safe, it has its limitations. The ring has a short power life span. It also has some trouble under less than perfect conditions, with factors like sweat and constant motion throwing off its signal. Unless you can keep your arm perfectly still and dry, you'll have to stick to the physical peripherals for now. But it's only a matter of time before our entire bodies become large digital controllers, and the SkinTrack may just be the first step towards that future.