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Award-Winning Research Could Make Wristwatches Smarter Than Smartphones

Stony Brook, NY– July 13, 2017 Award-winning research co-authored by  Xiaojun Bi , an assistant professor in the  Department of Computer Science at  Stony Brook University outlines the design, decoding algorithm and implementation for COMPASS, a rotational keyboard that will be used to enter text into smartwatches without the need for a touchscreen.

Entering text on smartwatches is currently quite difficult, especially on those without a virtual keyboard. COMPASS is a text entry method that is based in the bezel of the watch, allowing the user to rotate three cursors that will enable them to select which letter they want to type. After selecting their letter, the locations of the cursors are then dynamically optimized to reduce the distance of the next rotation. This is similar to the predictive typing that most users would be familiar with on their smartphones, but finally allows a comparable method to be applied to smartwatches for the first time.

Assistant Professor  Xiaojun Bi

The researchers evaluated the performance of COMPASS with a series of user studies, which revealed that with 90 minutes of practice, users increased their typing speed from 10 wpm (words per minute) to 12.5 wpm. As stated in the research paper, an advantage of the circular layout is that different from conventional QWERTY keyboards T9 keyboards (the keyboard on the Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch), is that it allows the remaining screen area to be in a round shape. Therefore, the screen contents can be scaled to fit in the inner area without changing the look-and-feel.

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18MPaI-NB9Q

The research paper won a prestigious award at this year’s ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (ACM CHI). ACM CHI is the premier international conference of Human-Computer Interaction. Professor Bi’s paper was co-authored by researchers from Tsinghua University (Beijing), the Key Laboratory of Pervasive Computing, and the Tsinghua National Laboratory for Information Science and Technology. When submitted to the field’s flagship conference, Bi’s paper, COMPASS : Rotational Keyboard on Non-Touch Smartwatches, was awarded the CHI 2017 Honorable Mention Award, which is given to the top 5% of papers.

Xiaojun Bi is also the recipient of a 2017 Google Faculty award ;  his research lies in the general area of Human Computer Interaction, with a primary focus on building interactive systems, designing interaction techniques, and studying fundamental issues of user interface design on mobile devices.

Photos credit to attached photos: Stony Brook University


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Stony Brook University is going beyond the expectations of what today’s public universities can accomplish. Since its founding in 1957, this young university has grown to become one of only four University Center campuses in the State University of New York (SUNY) system with more than 25,700 students, 2,500 faculty members, and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs. Our faculty have earned numerous prestigious awards, including the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for animal conservation, Abel Prize and the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The University offers students an elite education with an outstanding return on investment: U.S. News & World Report ranks Stony Brook among the top 40 public universities in the nation. Its membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places Stony Brook among the top 62 research institutions in North America. As part of the management team of Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University joins a prestigious group of universities that have a role in running federal R&D labs. Stony Brook University is a driving force in the region’s economy, generating nearly 60,000 jobs and an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion. Our state, country and world demand ambitious ideas, imaginative solutions and exceptional leadership to forge a better future for all. The students, alumni, researchers and faculty of Stony Brook University are prepared to meet this challenge.