RotoView Tilt Control for Smart Watches

RotoView For Smart Watches

RotoView tilt control technology is very natural for smart watch design, providing major user experience benefits compared to the traditional touch screen interface:

Check out our new Virtual Back Hand Touchpad technology for smartwatches

Guidelines for RotoView Tilt Control for Smart Watches

The smart watch's contents view is the virtual screen that must be viewed by the small display on the smart watch. The contents view may include action icons, images, graphical maps, text data and more. The RotoView tilt based scrolling (and action control) can be used in various scenarios that depend upon the scrolling direction of the contents view.

Tilt control constrained along one direction

In this scenario, scrolling of the contents view is constrained within one direction, typically along the vertical direction of the watch's screen.

This is the preferred operation as it is easy to convert the natural wrist rotation movement of the user to a linear scrolling along the chosen vertical (or horizontal) direction.

Smart Watch Tilt Control

Fig. 1: Constrained vertical tilt control.

We have seen that constrained vertical scrolling is being adapted for web scrolling in mobile friendly smartphones, and we believe it is even more natural for smart watches with their smaller screen. The placement of the watch around the wrist makes it natural to convert the wrist rotation to vertical scrolling of the contents view, as shown in Fig. 1.

In this example of smart watch tilt control, the contents view has several action icons that are arranged in a vertical list. Assuming that the watch's display shows the beginning of the list, a user initiation command (users commands are describe below) starts vertical scrolling in response to the wrist rotation. Any icon that is near the center of the display is highlighted, so that the user can activate the action controlled by the icon and terminate the scrolling operation.

Free scrolling along any direction

In some applications, like viewing magnified images or maps, the user must have the flexibility to scroll the contents in any direction. In such an application, the user scrolls up and down the screen with the wrist rotation, and scrolls left and right by changing the horizontal tilt of the watch with the hand.

Many of the techniques illustrated in our smartphone apps can be adapted for this scenario, including the Scroll Controller that guides the scrolling. The Scroll Controller size is preferably reduced in view of the very small size of the watch's screen.

Avoiding the oblique angle viewing problem

RotoView technology provides two main scrolling modes, the Proportional Scroll mode and the Dynamic Scroll mode. During Proportional Scroll mode, the changes in the wrist rotation are directly converted into scrolling distance. In contrast, during the Dynamic Scroll mode, the changes in the wrist rotation are directly converted into scrolling speed.

In the Proportional Scroll mode, the user needs to tilt the smart watch to a relative angle that projects the desired portion of the contents screen on to the smart watch's display. In view of the small size of the display, a large contents screen can quickly cause the oblique angle viewing problem, where the user has to view the screen at a slant angle. RotoView technology automatically selects the Dynamic Scroll mode during scrolling of large contents, as the Dynamic Scroll mode uses smaller tilt angles and always returns to optimal viewing condition when scrolling ends.

Fig. 2 illustrates how the scroll mode selection is performed for icon list selection in a smartwatch in accordance with RotoView technology (as described in US patents 9,181,760, 9,348,435 and 10,031,657). On the left side example, the icon list is relatively long with 10 icons. The height of the virtual contents view (contents_height) that contains the icon list is more than three time the height of the smartwatch screen (screen_height). On the right side example, the icon list is shorter, with only 6 icons, so that the height of virtual contents view is only two times the height of the screen.

Smart Watch Tilt Scroll Mode Selection

Fig. 2: Smartwatch automatic tilt scroll mode selection.

Assuming the preset maximum magnification allowed for the Proportional Scroll Mode is 3.0, the left side example automatically selects the Dynamic Scroll mode, where the wrist rotation changes are converted into scrolling speed changes. The user then avoids the need to rotate the wrist with an awkwardly large angle to obtain the top or bottom icon. Once scrolling reaches the target, the user returns the wrist rotation to the initial value (optimal viewing condition), so that scrolling speed subsides to zero (fixed screen).

Assuming the same preset maximum magnification, the right side example automatically selects the Proportional Scroll mode, where the wrist rotation is directly mapped into scrolling distance. The Proportional Scroll Mode graph example shown in Fig. 2 maps the acceptable range of wrist rotation onto scrolling from one end of the contents view to the other.

RotoView technology also provides Baseline updates that avoid non-responsive ranges when the user continues to rotate the wrist beyond the point where the screen view reaches one of the ends of the contents view.

Scrolling Start, Stop and Action Commands

The RotoView Protocol provides several Start and Stop commands to switch between RotoView Navigation (scrolling) and Fixed (normal) modes, and to accommodate other selected commands. For example, the action icon selection in Fig. 1 must allow the user an option to select the highlighted icon, or to abort the selection process.

These commands were designed to facilitate convenient single hand operation, as well as achieving good integration between rotation/movement gestures and touchscreen commands. It is clear, however, that performing complex multi-touch commands are hard to do on the very small size of the smart watch display. It also requires the use of two hands.

Various researchers have suggested complex hand gesture detection techniques to accommodate smart watch control. These include cameras that determine a finger gesture, wrist muscles flexing detection, proximity sensors, and more.

The RotoView technology includes a finger tap command detector option which can be efficiently integrated into a smart watch that has a sound sensor (see, for example, Fig. 9 of the first RotoView patent 6,466,198). For a convenient single hand operation, the user can generate a sound signal with the hand that carries the smart watch to activate the control commands. Such a sound may be created by snapping a finger, tapping two or more fingers with each other, tapping the forearm or by clapping the face of the hand with three or four fingers.

Finger tap commands can be used in the tilt control example of Fig. 1. The icon scrolling can be initated when the user generates a single tapping sound. When the user has scrolled (by wrist twisting to the desired icon), a single tapping sound can be used to select the action of the icon. Alternatively, a double tapping sound (namely, two sounds separated by a brief pause) can be used to abort the selection operation.

RotoView also suggests activation commands based on a hand shake (e.g. moving the watch up and down). To avoid disturbance of the tilt base control by such shakes, RotoView maintains a stored trail of screen movements. When any command shake is detected, the tilt-based scrolling of the screen is restored to the last position prior to the shake.

RotoView IP portfolio

To add RotoView tilt control technology to your smart watch design, please contact Scott LaRoche, 1-281-879-6226,, or use the following form.

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              RotoView Technology

"If sliding our fingers up and down our phones feels like an intuitive scrolling motion today, simply tilting our screens may be the obvious choice of tomorrow when it comes to moving text around a screen. Thanks to a new patent awarded to Houston-based Innoventions Inc., reading an article may soon be as easy as changing your viewing angle."
Digital Trends, November 17, 2015

Virtual Touchpad Video

"Here's a technology that could put a new spin on moving and shaking... Don't be surprised if you see people waving their PDAs around."
PC Magazine, September 2003

      from the RotoView Patent

The RotoView Patent

Check out the RotoView apps for iPhone:
RotoView Demo

RotoView Photo Magnifier

Check out our RotoView apps for Android
RotoView Photo Viewer


RotoView PDF Reader

INNOVENTIONS® Inc. "INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS FROM INVENTIVE MINDS" Copyright © 2018 INNOVENTIONS, INC. All rights reserved. Android is a trademark of Google Inc. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod, iPod touch, and iTunes are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. RotoView and INNOVENTIONS are registered trademarks of INNOVENTIONS, Inc.