Ironically, as cell phones are getting bigger, we see increasing popularity in ultra small screen devices such as smart watches. With these smaller screens we need to find ways to work more efficiently with them or risk these new devices being regarded as novelty items. The same old interfaces don't work.
One of the most common things to do on a mobile device is to enter text. We've learned to enter text with our thumbs so we can continue to learn. The problem with a smart watch is that it's a one handed device and the size of the screen really only works for a single finger without obscuring too much of the screen. Not content to revert to hunt-and-peck typing 101 the Autodesk Research User Interface group set out to find a solution.
Swipeboard takes inspiration from Morse code and gestural input for an easy to master text entry paradigm that sees users entering more than 30 words per minute (wpm).
Swipeboard uses a QWERTY keyboard broken up into segments of 3 or 4 characters. The user simply taps in the region of the character block and then swipes to identify the character. Some users have achieved a level of comfort with the system that allows them to enter text without looking at the screen.
Hard to believe? Watch the video of Swipeboard in action below. Note that the video is not sped up - you're seeing it work in real time.
What's next for Swipeboard?
Well, we'll be talking about it at UIST 2014, the User rInterface Software and Technology Symposium, for starters.
For future work, this could be interesting to explore on other wearable devices like glasses and rings. It could also be interesting to see Swipeboard expanded from characters to complete words. What do you think?
If you liked this post, you might also like to read about Duet, a research project that looks at making a smart watch and smart phone work well together. Duet shows that 1 + 1 can equal more than 2.