Pre-touch: The next step for smartphones

Imagine using your phone, scrolling through endless pages, watching videos and playing games. Ever since touchscreen phones came out, everyone immediately switched from the old keypad phones for the endless control possibilities a touchscreen provides. Now where do we go from here?

So far, we are quite satisfied with the world (in the form of Internet on our smartphones) on our fingertips, with infinite ways to command and navigate through a wide array of controls, which can be laid out in any manner on our touchscreens. Well, the next best thing will be a touch less touchscreen that can read your hand gestures and respond to it. Sounds like something out a futuristic sci-fi movie, right? Gladly, no. It is the real life indeed.

Microsoft released a video from its research team’s latest project which will have you jump for joy. The latest research project showed of a new but still experimental touchscreen display technology which the company thinks is the future of smartphone touchscreens. They are calling it “pre-touch sensing” system. The technology uses a self-capacitive touchscreen with sensors embedded in the smartphone to react to how, when and where you will touch the display. The way you hold the phone will also be used as a way to interact with the smartphone which can be manipulated by your grip strength and hand positioning.

The video showcases some of the functions the Microsoft research team has been working on which are devised on two individual concepts, controlling the smartphone with your hold and grip; and operating the touchscreen by hovering your finger(s) over it for additional functions. This allows the user to be able to operate and control whatever features or parameters required, at convenient times and on appropriate places on the touchscreen, depending on the way you hold the smartphone and finger placement.XEX6YIw

“I think it has huge potential for the future of mobile interaction. And I say this as one of the very first people to explore the possibilities of sensors on mobile phones, including the now ubiquitous capability to sense and auto-rotate the screen orientation,” said Ken Hinckley, a researcher at the company, according to a Microsoft blog post.

In the video shared by the research team, you can see that the smartphone reacts and registers the direction and intensity of the person’s grip as he holds the device and displays the technology. The system will also support multi-touch finger gestures and will respond to the distance of the fingertips from the screen. The touchscreen will also detect when the device is being held one-handed or in a different orientation, upon which the smartphone’s display interface will adjust to match the user’s hand movements and positions accordingly.

Though Microsoft represented the technology on a Windows phone, it is still unclear if we will see it on consumer devices as the project is still in an early phase. Will be see it on other devices that are running Android or iOS platform? That is still an unanswered question and all we can do it wait and see.

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