WristWhirl lets you control your smartwatch with hand gestures (and look mad while you do it)


It’s a funny thing: Smartwatches are supposed to be the more accessible alternative to your smartphone, but you can operate a phone with one hand, while the watch takes two. Luckily, Dartmouth researchers are on the case, and have engineered a way to use your wrist as a sort of joystick, allowing you to use your smartwatch one-handed.

It’s a very hacky project; this isn’t some custom app running on an Apple Watch. Xing-Dong Yang and his colleagues built their own smartwatch with a 2″ display, a wristband and a dozen infrared proximity sensors. The WristWhirl prototype is literally duct-taped together.


The proximity sensors monitor how far away the bits of your hand are, collating that information into a larger picture of the position of your wrist. This data is sent instantly to the watch, where it drives a virtual cursor. Tilting your hand down moves the cursor down, and so on.

Tilt in a pattern to launch or switch apps, scroll up and down and play games, all without using that second hand of yours. And it only detects gestures when you want it to: another sensor detects the sound made when you tap your thumb and index finger together (!), which turns the recognition software on and off.

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