Researchers at Qeexo, a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University, have developed a technology for interacting with touchscreens that easily rivals Apple’s 3D Touch and its pressure-sensitivity features. It’s called FingerTouch, and instead of relying on display hardware, it’s an algorithm that can determine the exact angle at which a finger is making contact with the screen. Because it’s software based, it can work with the existing display hardware that’s widely available.
As demonstrated in Qeexo’s video, FingerAngle can easily be used for physical interactions with a touchscreen on par with 3D Touch. Angle calculation is done by detecting the shape of a fingertip as it makes contact, since this shape changes depending on the angle of the finger. The algorithm can not only detect the angle of a finger as it makes contact, but also in realtime as a finger is rotated while touching.
In terms of actually using it, FingerAngle has the potential to replace the need to use two fingers to rotate or zoom things on the screen. This could be handy for smartphones, but incredibly useful on things like smartwatches, which have displays so small it’s almost impossible to have two fingers make contact.
FingerAngle could also create a whole new of playing games on smartphones, doing away with on-screen representations of analog sticks or the need to use a device’s accelerometer by physically tilting it. Simply changing the angle of a finger could be used for movement in 3D games, or adjust camera perspectives.
Qeexo suggests that because FingerAngle is an algorithm, it could be brought to today’s devices rather simply with a software upgrade. Unfortunately there’s timeframe on when the feature might come to iOS or Android, especially since it would require Apple and Google to license it, but there’s always a chance we could see it popping up in third-party apps.