This smartwatch prototype will move on your wrist so you can never ignore it

(Image credit: Jon Gong)

Have you ever wished your smartwatch could rotate? 

Me neither, but engineers at Dartmouth College and the University of Waterloo have developed a prototype smartwatch face that can not only rotate, but hinge, translate, rise and orbit too.

"Users want smartwatches that fit their lifestyles and needs," said Xing-Dong Yang, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth, who developed the prototype, named "Cito". 

The goal of the project is to improve how smartwatches deliver data to the wearer. As examples, they suggest that a watch could automatically orbit around its strap to keep the face aimed at the user whatever the orientation of the wrist. 

Or it could rise toward a user to alert them of a notification if a user is playing a game, hinge to let someone else look at the face, or slide along an arm to reveal the face if it's hidden under a shirt sleeve.

Exciting dances

Those movements can be performed individually or combined into more exciting dances at will. As well as being purportedly more convenient for users, it's hoped that the technology could deliver benefits to users with physical disabilities or other impairments.

"We recognize 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 research team wrote in a paper that'll be presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Denver, Colorado on 10 May.

"Consumers will question the need for smartwatches if the devices are just not convenient enough," said Yang. 

"Cito proves the true potential of smartwatches and shows that they can be functional and fun."

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.