“The evolution of mobile touch may still be in its infancy, with many possibilities unbounded by the thought-land of the touchscreen yet to explore.”
This is the moon-landing-esque conclusion Microsoft comes to after demonstrating its rather cool pre-touch mobile technology, i.e., a mobile phone that senses what your fingers are about to do and allows certain actions to happen without ever touching the screen.
Led by Microsoft Research the touchscreen senses your fingers above the screen and what command it thinks you are about to perform. It can sense if you are holding the phone in one hand or two, offering actions easily navigable for a certain grip.
In the video demonstration of pre-touch Microsoft shows how you can watch a video on your smartphone and by hovering your fingers above the screen playback controls will come into view. If you are holding the phone with one hand those controls will appear at the side of the screen, thereby making it possible use your thumb.
Perhaps a nice feature for those who eat while they scroll or read text is the fact the technology allows you to select text and scroll without actually having to touch the screen, while if you are working you can select select, copy, delete and paste without adding a layer of grease to the screen. Hyperlinked text can also be revealed by simply hovering above the screen.
Similar technologies have appeared elsewhere, such as Samsung’s Air View, although by watching Microsoft’s pre-touch video you’ll see that the experience offers a little more than Samsung has so far come up with.
A while back Microsoft was actually set to release a flagship Lumia with gesture control functions but according to reports the company cancelled the release due to developers having problems creating apps for the phone. We might hope Microsoft has overcome these glitches as the technology looks very usable, and useful indeed. Here we did a round-up of other gesture controlled devices.
Microsoft Research will let us know more about this development at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems later this month when it presents its paper: Pre-Touch Sensing for Mobile Interaction.