Although smartwatches are convenient to get quick glances of information without requiring your full attention like a smartphone would, they do have one minor problem: you need both hands to operate them.

Voice commands could potentially fix the issue, but these can be embarrassing or impolite. Scientists at Dartmouth College and the University of Manitoba have attempted to solve this minor problem without requiring you to scream into your wrist – with tech they call WristWhirl.

Rather than requiring you to use your opposite hand to interact with a smartwatch’s touch screen display, you would instead rely on the movement of your wrist to navigate menus or make selections. Take a list of contacts for instance; you could move your wrist in the shape of an S to advance the list to your S contacts so you could call John Smith. Another example could be to turn your wrist rapidly to scroll through a long list. The watch was tested with a Google Maps app that could be panned and zoomed based on where the watch was held in relation to a person’s body.

WristWhirl’s founders stated that the goal of the tech isn’t to replace the touchscreen commonly found on smartwatches, but instead to provide a new method of one-handed operation when it could be useful.

A huge benefit of WristWhirl’s technology is the fact that with it, you can interact with your smartwatch without looking at it. This could come in handy during meetings, at the gym and especially driving or operating machinery. Launching your calendar is as simple as turning your wrist in the shape of a triangle. Currently, the process involves pressing a button on the side, scrolling through all your apps then tapping the calendar icon.

The WristWhirl is only a prototype for now. The smartwatch has a band equipped with a dozen infrared proximity sensors, a vibration sensor and a microcontroller board. The researchers hope to make a self-contained version using an Apple Watch. It’ll be interesting to see if this method of controlling smartwatches ever takes off.

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