Skin Buttons: Cheap, Small, Low-Power and Clickable Fixed-Icon Laser Projectors

Skin Buttons: Cheap, Small, Low-Power and Clickable Fixed-Icon Laser Projectors

Smartwatches are a promising new platform,
but due to their small size, even basic actions like navigation are cumbersome. There’s a great need for approaches that expand
the interactive envelope around smartwatches, allowing input to escape the small physical
confines of the device. We propose using very small projectors that
render *fixed-image* icons onto the skin, significantly expanding the interactive region
without increasing device footprint. Further, these icons can be made touch sensitive,
allowing for interactive applications. For example, projected icons could alert you
to a missed call or text message. Tapping on the application icon launches the
app. In this clock example, we use generic projected
icons coupled with small, on-screen labels. This allows skin buttons to be used for many
functions. Finally, with a navigation-centric icon set,
we can control applications without touching the screen, allowing for further miniaturization.
Here a user can navigate quickly and comfortably through songs and playlists. Our experiments show that these projectors
can be accurate, made very small and inexpensive, and have
negligible impact on battery life — in many cases they can save battery power
by keeping the main display off. In the future, instead of using film,
skin buttons could be made dynamic by using small LCD matrices.
Here’s a prototype using a 3 by 5 pixel matrix, but these could be made at a much higher resolution
in the near future.


  • Loris Bottello

    October 6, 2014

    Great work, but you why say "negligible impact on battery life" while numbers shows that power consumption is 20 times higher?

  • maisun monowar

    October 8, 2014

    Awesome stuff.

  • JohnyK07

    October 12, 2014

    This is just dumb.
    If the projection is just 4 buttons, then it would just be easier to just have 4 physical buttons on the sides…

  • Eng. Mohamed

    October 19, 2014

    Hello; How can I buy this clock ?

  • Alexander Balalin

    October 19, 2014

    Next Step for Apple Inc. 🙂

  • Pitie Dedieu

    October 21, 2014

    It looks retro-futurist    i like it !

  • Robert Young

    April 22, 2015

    Nice concept. This is the beginning of great things to come for the smart watch.

  • C

    June 6, 2015

    0:59 the onscreen buttons are almost the exact same size of the projected buttons


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