Disney Designed a Smartwatch that Knows What You're Touching

Disney's proof-of-concept watch knows what you're touching by listening to electromagnetic noise.

Nov 11 2015, 10:00am

So far, I haven't found a good reason to buy a smartwatch. I don't want a health gadget, and I don't mind pulling my phone out of my pocket when I need it. However, as someone who often forgets his phone or wallet behind, the thought of a smartwatch that will send me a reminder as soon as I touch a door handle is an enticing offer.

That's just what Disney Research, Mickey Mouse's international network of skunkworks labs, has developed with EM-Sense. The sensor, which is being used in a proof-of-concept smartwatch, can detect the distinct electromagnetic noise emitting from a variety of objects as they pass through your body when you touch them.

A tablet, a computer, a drill, and so on, will each have a different electromagnetic signal, and EM-Sense can identify them in real-time. The video above imagines several ways this could be useful to you. It can automatically start a timer when you start brushing your teeth, making sure you brush for at least 60 seconds; start a tutorial for how to use a particular appliance when you pick it up; log you into your computer; or send you a reminder you've set up beforehand when you touch the door handle to your office.

That looks much more useful than just reading tweets on my wrist.