Earlier this month the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Samsung that revealed an interesting idea. Imagine a smartwatch interface that was really smart? – An Interface that could change its positioning to face the user at all times and even tilt out of smartwatch frame to make that happen. In 2014 Patently Mobile was first to discover that Samsung's next generation smartwatch would likely take on a round interface, replacing its current oblong interface design. In May it was all but confirmed that the new design would in fact become a reality. Although the vast majority of the invention illustrates Samsung's traditional oblong smartwatch design, an invention's flexibility could always be adopted to other styles such as round interface. Samsung's filing actually mentions a round shape once. On one hand, the idea is fascinating while on the other, it's absurd. For now, fascinating wins out.
Samsung invents a new way to Control a Smartwatch Interface
Samsung note early on that smart watch users tend to move their wrists wearing the smart watch toward various directions. Thus, in order to bring a smart watch within the line of sight of a user, the user has to hold the smart watch with the one hand and adjust the position of the display toward a specific area of the wrist. In the event that a user does not have both his/her hands freely, adjusting the display position of the smart watch would be difficult. For example, it is difficult for a user to adjust the position of the smart watch while driving a car or hand-carrying a load.
In one important aspect of Samsung's invention, a smartwatch includes a display having a position that is changeable, an estimation-based position controller configured to determine an initial target position based on a face position and control the display to be moved to the determined initial target position, a face position determiner configured to, based on a face recognition result, determine whether a face exists in front of the display positioned at the initial target position, and a face recognition-based position controller configured to, in response to determining a face does not exist in front of the display, determine a modified target position to enable the display to be positioned toward a face and control the display to be moved to the modified target position.
The technology may be applied to a smartwatch with a main body that is equipped with a display that is attached to a wrist band. The technology includes moving the display between a base state in which the display screen is attached to the wrist band and a changed state in which the display position changed relative to the wrist band and a bottom surface of the main body.
Samsung's patent FIG. 2 noted below illustrates a diagram illustrating an example of a smart watch that includes an apparatus for changing a display position.
According to the face recognition, if it has been determined that the user's face is located to look at the display conveniently, the display is maintained as it is at the current target position. However, according to the face recognition result, it may be negatively determined as that the user's face is not in the captured image, as that only some of the user's face is in the captured image, or as that while the entire user's face is in the captured image, the display is not in a position for the user to look at it conveniently.
In such cases of the negative determination of the face recognition, a modified target position is estimated, and the face recognition is performed again at the modified target position when the display has been moved, and based on the result of the face recognition, a new modified target position may be re-estimated. Then, the display may be moved again to the re-estimated, new, and modified target position. These processes may be repeatedly performed until the face recognition result becomes positive.
In the end, even if the display of the smart watch does not face the user's face, an apparatus and method for automatically changing the display position of the smartwatch to a position where the user can see the display conveniently can be implemented.
Samsung's patent filing further notes that "In another example, instead of a gesture, the user may enable the display to be automatically moved by a voice command, such as screaming out "Display!" so that the display of the smart watch may be brought within the line of sight of the user." Okay, that one is just stupid – ha! – screaming out to your watch display – Really? I think it would easier and less stressful to just move my wrist to see the time than yell at my smartwatch interface to change positions. Yet over time, the idea actually has some base potential.
Samsung's patent FIG. 7 noted above is a diagram illustrating an example of a display of a smart watch in a base state; FIG. 8 is a diagram illustrating an example of a display of a smart watch according to FIG. 7 in a state where the display is turned on a wrist band in a changed position; FIG. 9 is a "A-A" sectional view of the example of smart watch illustrated in FIG. 7 for comparing and showing relative positions of displays according to FIGS. 7 and 8.
Samsung's patent FIG. 5 noted below is a flowchart illustrating an example of an operation for determining a face position and an operation for controlling a position of a display based on face recognition
Samsung filed their U.S. patent application back in Q4 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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