Virtual Touchpad Technology for Smartwatches

Virtual Touchpad Video

Overcome the Limitations of Small Smartwatch Displays with our Revolutionary Virtual Touchpad Technology!

Our latest development for smart watch interfaces utilizes side-viewing cameras that monitor a virtual touchpad on the back of the user's hand. This new technology provides an interface that is simple to control, and as the display is always visible to the user it is more accurate. It is a perfect enhancement for smart watches and other wearable devices with very small displays.

The Virtual Touchpad is Easier to Use

With this technology, a portion of the back of the user's hand is assigned as a virtual touchpad that maps the actual device's screen. The user controls and communicates with the smart watch by tapping the virtual touchpad area. The virtual touchpad typically provides a larger area than the device's screen, with a shape similar to the screen. Side-viewing cameras determine the touch points of the user's fingers on the virtual touchpad area.

Since the user controls the watch by tapping the virtual touchpad instead of tapping the actual screen, the finger does not obscure the small screen of the smart watch. As a result, selecting an icon is much easier when using the virtual touchpad, as shown in Fig. 1. Since the virtual touchpad area is significantly larger than the actual screen, this technology allows the selection of icons that are too closely grouped on the screen display.

Back Hand Touchpad Icon Selection

Fig. 1: Icon selection by the virtual touchpad.

In the example illustrated in Fig. 1, ICON4 is selected when the user taps on the relative location of ICON4 on the virtual touchpad area.

Convenient Text Entry

The user can tap or drag one or more fingers on the virtual touchpad area, as if the fingers touch the actual watch display. This virtual touchpad allows for a multitude of user controls and interface possibilities. Fig. 2 demonstrates how to enter text into the watch using the standard drag gesture on the virtual touchpad to draw the shape of the characters.

Back Hand Touchpad Text Entry

Fig. 2: Text entry by the virtual touchpad.

In this example, the user draws the letter "A" while entering the text, "you can start..." The watch's screen shows the previously entered characters while the user inserts the "a" for the word "start". Since the user drags on the virtual touchpad and not on the screen itself, the user can clearly see the previously entered characters, without the obstruction of the drawing finger that is likely to happen when the user draws directly on the screen.

Many other gestures, including drag, tap, double-tap, long press, pinch and others can be detected and implemented with this technology, providing a superior user experience when controlling and communicating with the smart watch.

Distinguishing Between Touching and Hovering Gesture

A key feature of our patented technology is the ability to distinguish between a true touching gesture (when the finger taps or drags the skin) and a hovering gesture (when the finger is above the skin, not touching it). In the previous example of text entry, it is extremely useful for capturing the entered character by analyzing the sequence of touching and hovering gestures.

Touching or Hovering Gesture Detection

Fig. 3: Distinguishing between touching and hovering gestures.

The camera is capturing the boundaries of the finger and the assigned skin area, and detects a potential touch gesture when the distance between the boundaries of the two objects reaches below a minimum distance. (Similarly, many other well known graphic analysis techniques can be used to detect a potential touch gesture.) To be able to determine if the potential touch gesture is not merely a hovering gesture, the camera also captures the boundaries of various skin surface artifacts (like blood vessels, blemishes, hair, skin texture) near the finger. If the user performs a true touch gesture, there should be a correlated movement of the nearby skin artifacts.

Using this correlation between the touch and the skin artifact movements allow the device to use only one camera, as shown in Fig. 3, as the required accuracy for the measurement of the distance between the finger boundaries and the skin boundaries is significantly reduced.

The Virtual Touchpad in Action

The following concept video (with simulated screens) provides a visual introduction of our new Virtual Touchpad technology.

Easy Calibration Process

A simple calibration process enables the user to define the area of the virtual touchpad on the back of the hand. The area does not need to be an exact square or rectangle. The user is prompted to tap the desired four corners of the back hand. Once this is done, the system creates a linear transformation that maps any touch point within the assigned area onto the relative position of the smartwatch's screen.

Multiple Virtual Touchpads On Both Sides of the Smart Watch

This technology is suitable for other wearable and mobile devices, where an area adjacent to the device is used as the virtual touchpad. Numerous virtual touchpads can be used, as demonstrated in Fig. 4, where two virtual touchpads are assigned on both sides of the watch. Each virtual touchpad can be used alone, and in some applications, special commands may be entered by tapping on both virtual touchpads in a preassigned order.

Multiple Virtual Touchpads

Fig. 4: Two virtual touchpads are assigned on both sides of the smart watch.

For more information on this technology, please review our US Patent 10,444,908 granted on October 15, 2019, tilted "Virtual Touchpads For Wearable and Portable Devices" by Dr. David Y. Feinstein. Other patent pending on this technology.

RotoView and Virtual Touchpad IP portfolio

To add this new smart watch interface technology to your wearable devices, please contact Scott LaRoche, 1-281-879-6226,, or use the following form.

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RotoView For Smart Watches

"If sliding our fingers up and down our phones feels like an intuitive scrolling motion today, simply tilting our screens may be the obvious choice of tomorrow when it comes to moving text around a screen. Thanks to a new patent awarded to Houston-based Innoventions Inc., reading an article may soon be as easy as changing your viewing angle."
Digital Trends, November 17, 2015

"Here's a technology that could put a new spin on moving and shaking... Don't be surprised if you see people waving their PDAs around."
PC Magazine, September 2003

      from the Virtual Touchpad Patent

The Virtual Touchpad Patent

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