Samsung Gear S2
Smartwatch screens are small by necessity, as the larger they get the more cumbersome the device is to wear around your wrist. But what if your watch (Gear S2 shown) wasn't limited by its screen and instead used the rest of your appendage as a display?
It could happen, assuming Samsung creates the tech to match its impressive vision. Over the weekend, a patent application from the company was discovered that shows a smartwatch with a tiny projector built into the side. When activated, it splashes a digital touch interface onto your skin.
Instead of tapping a minuscule number pad on a smartwatch screen, for example, you'd have much larger numbers to tap on the backside of your hand. In another example, the user is able to draw symbols and characters on his or her larger wrist and have them appear on the watch screen.
Samsung smartwatch patent illustration
A further example shows a map screen on the smartwatch and supporting details (like a description or address) projected onto the wrist, effectively giving the watch dual-screen capabilities. We also see buttons projected onto knuckles and fingers, as well as menu options listed alongside the wrist when the arm is held pointed vertically.
And that's just the nearby projection: another illustration shows a large image projected from the watch onto a nearby door or wall, with the same kind of touch interactions allowed. The patent also showcases a wearable headset with projection tech, which could provide an experience somewhat akin to Microsoft's HoloLens.
It appears that the watch concept would use a small camera to detect the surface of your hand and arm, allowing the interface to perfectly fit within your individual shape, and sensors would detect your interactions. This sort of projection technology would seemingly open up augmented reality opportunities as well, whether used for advanced interfaces or entertainment purposes.
It all looks decidedly futuristic, like something we'd see in a sci-fi movie or spy thriller - but for now, it's just illustrations on a patent application. We have yet to see any indication that Samsung is anywhere near producing this kind of device, but we can't help but hope this kind of inventive tech is coming sooner rather than later.