April 15, 2024

How a company is giving its Wear OS smartwatch superpowers

double point

“It’s about building the next touch screen,” said Ohto Pentikäinen, CEO of a company called Doublepoint, while presenting his exciting next-generation gesture control system to Digital Trends. The best way to think of it is as Apple’s Double Tap feature on steroids.

I chatted with Pentikäinen via video call during CES 2024 to learn more.

More than an application

Ohto Pentikäinen, CEO of Doublepoint double point

You may have already seen the app Doublepoint launched for Wear OS, called Wow Mouse, at CES 2024, but it’s just the beginning of what the company is working on. Wow Mouse adds gesture control to your Wear OS smartwatch, effectively turning it into a mouse on your wrist that uses finger and wrist movements to operate. But Wow Mouse is a relatively basic demonstration of what Doublepoint is working on.

“We offer something much more complete,” Pentikäinen said when asked about the Wow Mouse app, “and we can do much more than just a single touch. The most important thing our current hardware is capable of doing is pinch and hold, which means you can pan and manipulate objects.”

Doublepoint calls them “micro gestures,” and they include everything from tap to select, tap to scroll, and double tap. Having additional gestures that go beyond Double Tap’s double-pinch gesture is very attractive and gets to the heart of why Pentikäinen compared the technology to a touch screen, as it replicates many of the same gestures we already use on them.

So how does the Doublepoint system work?

How these gestures work

Control ANYTHING with your Doublepoint Smartwatch

“The way microgesture detection works is different from computer vision-based hand tracking,” Pentikäinen explained, using a familiar comparison. “This uses the camera to calculate the pose of your hand, and it does this every millisecond or whatever the frame rate is when your fingers touch. The way we detect touch uses the Inertial Measurement Unit.”

The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sounds like a special piece of hardware, but in reality it simply includes an accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer. In other words, core sensors found in almost all smartwatches and other wearable devices.

“It looks for a vibration caused when your fingers touch each other,” Pentikäinen said, at which point Doublepoint’s algorithms differentiate that vibration from any other vibrations that occur when you move your fingers. However, the innovative pinch-and-hold gesture, which is highly unusual and central to the algorithm’s appeal, is a little different and much more complicated.

“For pinching and holding, we also need to know when the fingers are held together, and we actually use tendon monitoring for that. We use the optical heart rate sensor not to look at the muscles, but at the tendons that connect your finger to the muscle, and it is the movement that tells us when you stop playing,” he said.

Settings and precision

Control your home with a Doublepoint smart watch

Part of the success of Apple’s Double Tap is that it works without any configuration and is also very precise. What about the Doublepoint system?

“We wanted one of our selling points from the beginning to be that we wouldn’t need any configuration and that when you put it in, it works instantly. What that means is that we need to implement a process to collect data from a wide variety of people and take into account relevant factors such as body mass index (BMI), age and melatonin levels. We have been able to achieve very, very good levels of precision. Almost in the range of 97% to 98%. Of course, there is still a lot of work to do,” he stated.

What’s also interesting is that a Doublepoint gesture recognition smartwatch can be paired with other Bluetooth devices, such as those with eye tracking, so that they work together. It makes control systems like this more natural and also more private, since there is no need for voice recognition as a backup or alternative.

Qualcomm is interested

The Mobvoi Ticwatch Pro 5, which uses one of the latest Qualcomm chips. Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Gesture controls are nothing new, but there’s no doubt that Apple’s Double Tap system has reignited interest in them recently. And it’s only likely to get more attention once the Vision Pro headphones are released, as other competing systems may try new and different things to make controlling the headphones easier and more intuitive. So it’s probably no surprise to hear that Qualcomm is interested in Doublepoint’s technology.

“We have a supplier agreement with Qualcomm,” Pentikäinen revealed. “It means that the idea is to integrate our algorithms into Qualcomm chips and they, of course, provide these chips to many different vendors of watches and fitness trackers that exist today.”

In addition to Qualcomm, it is also working with sensor companies to integrate its algorithm into the sensor itself. Then there’s the company’s flagship smartwatch platform, which Pentikäinen says “is designed to give people an idea of ​​what we can do with [the algorithms]and show how we would turn it into a product.”

Coming soon?

Doublepoint’s flagship smartwatch double point

Does this mean that a new smartwatch is coming soon with Doublepoint pinch-and-hold and gesture technology that will let you scroll, swipe, and alter values ​​like volume or brightness?

“We don’t have confirmed timelines for when our partners will be able to bring their products to market, but I would say these things are evolving very quickly currently,” Pentikäinen said.

Several times during our brief conversation, Pentikäinen made comparisons between the Doublepoint’s gesture control system and the touchscreen, and we ended with a better explanation of why he made them.

“The touch screen basically started on the phone and now we see it everywhere,” he said. “It allowed all kinds of new devices. Apple doubled down on gesture recognition last year and basically proved that gestures will be a vital way to improve. “So for us, we just want to enable this for as many businesses as possible, using what we think will be the next touch screen.”

While we’ll have to wait for a Doublepoint-powered smartwatch to arrive, you can try out a basic version via the Wow Mouse app, which is ready to download via Google Play for select Wear OS smartwatches right now.

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