Smartwatches haven’t taken off as gaming devices, and it’s not hard to see why: Their tiny screens don’t leave a lot of room for virtual buttons. How can you play a game if you can’t even see it?
Now one patent has revealed a possible solution to the problem — but it comes from a company whose CEO once said he saw no future in smartwatches.
Dutch site LetsGoDigital reports that Huawei has filed a patent for a smartwatch that lets users control the device a little like a traditional game console. How? By using the straps.
The patent includes diagrams showing the watch held with a strap in each hand. Mechanical and touch sensors sense orientation, taps, even whether the strap is being pulled — all translated into moves inside games.
The obvious downside is that you’d have to actually take your watch off to play with it — but another drawing shows how it could be used with the watch still on your wrist, with different fingers reaching across to different straps.
Until now, games haven’t really been a top feature for smartwatches — and they’ve largely been limited to brain teasers like Dot Rush and classics like Blackjack. (There are a few examples of adventure games on smartwatches, but they are pretty limited).
But gamers shouldn’t get too excited just yet. Tech companies apply for patents — exclusive rights for a new way of doing something — all the time, even when they might not bring that product or feature to market.
Huawei itself applies for them several times a month. (That’s far behind the leader in the US — IBM — who averages 27.2 awarded patents each day.)
Those who aren’t into gaming are also in luck. The patent also shows the technology being used as a virtual keyboard, as well as a zooming in and out of selfies. It even has a nifty copy and paste feature.
To be sure, we won’t see console or even smartphone-level gaming on smartwatches in the near future. But with other players like Samsung proposing things like a wearable projector that lets you game using your palm, it’s possible a decent smartwatch gaming experience is on its way.