Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have produced a booster that might make smartwatches even smarter, enabling them with a technology that could let wearables process what the wearer is touching, holding or using — and could bring the Internet closer to merging with the real world.

Developed in collaboration with Disney Research, EM-Sense is a system recognition software that utilizes body capacitance (aka the electrical conductive powers that the body naturally contains, thanks to our natural epidermic insulation and our ability to store an electrical charge) to allow a smartwatch to pick up on when the wearer touches a device that uses an electrical (or electromagnetic) charge. If the device-at-hand (or device-in-hand) is also hooked up to the wearable, EM-Sense could offer up options to optimize the gadget — like, for instance, unlocking a recognized device without a password.

To make this work, EM-Sense turns the user's body into what is essentially a human antenna, allowing electromagnetic signals to pump through the wearer via an electrode attached to the wrist. As a wrist wearable, smartwatches are the obvious go-to for an electrode-touting device.

However, EM-Sense has far bigger ambitions than for contributing to better everyday convenience: the context-aware recognition system could mark a major foray into blurring the line between the Internet that exists beyond your computer screen and the Internet that can exist without a computer altogether.

"By extending the Internet to physical objects — what's being called the Internet of Things (IoT) — we are creating new ways for people to interact with the world around them," said Jessica Hodgins, the vice president of Disney Research, in a press statement issued by CMU. "EM-Sense can make the IoT experience even richer by enabling people to get information or additional functionality simply by touching everyday objects." 

See EM-Sense in action in the video below.


Via: Carnegie Mellon

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