One day computers will be in us, not on us, but until that day comes most of us find ourselves stuck with fat fingers and tiny screens, but a new future interface might solve your “Fingers and Thumbs” dilema.


As a Futurist I scoff at your smart watch as I use a neural interface to telepathically write my article. You’ve been sold the dream of a “supercomputer on your wrist” and in reality you’ve probably discovered that a “computer” on your wrist with a small screen sucks, even if it can predict when you’re getting ill (eventually). Enjoy sending an E-Mail. Enjoy playing Angry Birds. Ha! Ha!


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Now though, thanks to the researchers at Carnegie Mellon’s Future Interfaces Group (FIG) I might have to re-think my scoffing because they’ve found a way to turn your skin into a trackpad, and that might not change everything about the way that we use our devices, but it could certainly change a lot.


The SkinTrack Interface In Action

Playing Angry Birds? No problem. Writing a text, or an E-Mail? No problem. Scribbling stupid drawings of stickmen and cats that you can send to your loved ones who look at them with hidden contempt while fake laughing? No problem.



FIG’s latest breakthrough, called SkinTrack, works by using four sensors, two in the watch band and two along the edge of the watch face, and a ring, that work together to track your finger’s movements along your arm and your hand.


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All of that sounds great, of course, but just imagine the chaos that a bug walking up your arm could cause… Anyway, there are basic swipe features that let users switch between apps, and a feature called “Spatial shortcuts” that let users drag and drop icons, open apps and play games. The sensors can even track your finger hovering above your skin as well, letting you virtually dial numbers and input text, and one day soon there’s no reason why the system could translate you writing on your arm into text on the screen.

While the technology probably won’t come to a consumer product any time, even though Apple does have some $230 Billion in cash in the bank – cough, cough – FIG are now working with Disney on the technology so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens…

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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