Pressure Touch, Twist and Pan Gestures on Unmodified Smartwatches


Abstract: The screen size of a smartwatch provides limited space to enable expressive multi-touch input, resulting in a markedly difficult and limited experience. We present WatchMI: Watch Movement Input that enhances touch interaction on a smartwatch to support continuous pressure touch, twist, pan gestures and their combinations. Our novel approach relies on software that analyzes, in real-time, the data from a built-in Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) in order to determine with great accuracy and different levels of granularity the actions performed by the user, without requiring additional hardware or modification of the watch. We report the results of an evaluation with the system, and demonstrate that the three proposed input interfaces are accurate, noise-resistant, easy to use and can be deployed on a variety of smartwatches. We then showcase the potential of this work with seven different applications including, map navigation, an alarm clock, a music player, pan gesture recognition, text entry, file explorer and controlling remote devices or a game character.

Keywords: smart watch, rich touch, wearable devices, small screen


  • - Hui-Shyong Yeo, Juyoung Lee, Andrea Bianchi, and Aaron Quigley. 2016. WatchMI: pressure touch, twist and pan gesture input on unmodified smartwatches. In Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI '16). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 394–399. DOI: