A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have solved one problem for the coming smartwatch boom: how to input data using a keyboard. The novel device is called the Zoomboard.
Smartwatches may well be the next big technological gadget. The Digital Journal has reported, for example, that Google are developing a device, as is Apple.
Whilst it remains unclear exactly what a smartwatch will do, the devices are likely to include such functionality as mapping software and the ability to send and receive text messages (and possibly video messages), voice activation, taking reading about the wearer's fitness levels, oh, and be able to tell the time.
One thing that has apparently yet to resolved, until now, is how to input text onto such a tiny screen. If the smartwatches are required to send and to receive information, then the user will need some means of doing so through a text enabled keyboard.
For the solution, a research team based at Carnegie Mellon University have created something called Zoomboard. This is a penny-sized touch-screen QWERTY keyboard that magnifies a small segment of keys when a user taps it, to enable easier typing onto very tiny screens (as shown on the gadget's demo page).
The device's co-creator Chris Harrison explained his drive for new technology as: "I create novel sensing technologies and interaction techniques that foster powerful and natural interactions between humans and computers. These efforts often lie in emerging use modalities, such as mobile computing, touch interfaces and gestural interaction."
The new device was presented at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Paris during May 2013. The details of the technology have been written up in a paper titled "ZoomBoard: A Diminutive QWERTY Soft Keyboard Using Iterative Zooming for Ultra-Small Devices".
According to Technology Review, the researchers do not plan to commercialize Zoomboard. Instead the source code, which is only about 100 lines, will be made available online for anyone to use.