IR INSIDER

Powered by IR Society at NYU

IR Insider is a production of NYU's International Relations Society. Our goal is to explain and discuss issues in IR in an engaging and thought-provoking fashion. We are written by students, for students, about issues students care about. 

DeformWear Redefines User-Interface Design

In the age of smartwatches and smartphones, it should come as no surprise that a new development is gaining traction in the personal technology arena: smart jewelry.

Researchers at Saarland University recently introduced “DeformWear,” an alternative to conventional mobile end-user devices whose small screen sizes make it difficult to implement touch commands. Although designed as a standalone input device, it can also be linked to companion technologies.

 Credit: Image courtesy of Saarland University

Credit: Image courtesy of Saarland University

The DeformWear model consists of a rubber switch, no larger than the head of a pin, installed into an accessory of choice. The switch can be manipulated like a miniature joystick while an internal sensor measures the various pressure-deformations generated by corresponding finger movements.

These deformations are assigned to specific tasks such as scrolling, selecting, or zooming, which permits users to control companion devices more efficiently. According to Martin Weigel, a senior scientist at the Honda Research Institute Europe, these sensor “interactions are precise and expressive,” making full use of “fine motor control of the fingertips.”

 Credit: Image Courtesy of Saarland University

Credit: Image Courtesy of Saarland University

The Saarland research team has succeeded in using the system to control not only smartwatches but also a television and set of virtual reality goggles. With the use of smaller control devices on the rise, DeformWear’s long term applications are promising.