This smartwatch prototype just won’t leave you the hell alone

The inescapable tether of digital interconnectivity could soon get that little bit tighter, thanks to a smartwatch prototype that literally bends over backwards to show you calls and notifications.

The “Cito” smartwatch, developed by engineers at Dartmouth College and the University of Waterloo in the US, is able to rotate, hinge, orbit around a user’s wrist, as well as slide out from under their sleeve. It’s an attempt to make watch faces more reactive, purportedly improving how users can see messages that flash up on the screen.

As the video demo shows, the researchers have built a clunky prototype that’s capable of moving in five ways: rotating, hinging on its side, rising vertically, sliding down the forearm and orbiting around the wrist. The idea is that these movements can be used in a number of different combinations, automatically repositioning the watch face if the user is, say, carrying boxes or washing dishes.

The engineers also note the potential for the watch to spatially signal messages or calls, such as by rotating 45-degrees or hinging repeatedly on its side. “If a message about lunch arrives, the watch can hinge open and closed like a mouth,” the video explains, without a hint of laughter.

“We recognise that our work investigates a radical idea, but our hope is that we also show how a methodical and principled approach can explore any such radical visions,” the researchers write in an accompanying paper.

There’s not much in the way of elegance around the prototype and its cumbersome strap-on control box, but you can imagine smartwatch manufacturers being intrigued by the idea of moveable faces. Personally, I stopped wearing an Apple Watch because I found unremitting connectivity to be a living nightmare. The last thing I want is a watch that’s going to be even more incessant about showing me emails and twitter messages.

I’m clearly not the target market, however. It’ll be interesting to see where Cito’s engineers go from here, and whether they can make the sleeve-sliding mechanism look less like a tiny alien mouth.



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