Smartphones next big thing: “Pre-Touch”

Chris Burns - May 5, 2016
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Smartphones next big thing: “Pre-Touch”

Androids and Windows Phones and iPhones rejoice, the next big thing you didn’t know you wanted but now need is almost here. Pre-Touch. A system with which you’ll find your fingers affecting your touchscreen device before they actually physically tap the surface. Sound familiar? It should. If you’ve ever used a Samsung Galaxy Note device before, you’ve seen their S Pen (stylus) and its ability to “hover” – appearing as a circle on-screen before it touches said screen. Now a project led by Ken Hinckley, principal Microsoft researcher, makes this feature far larger for your fingers and hands.

What you’re seeing here is some Pre-Touch action with a Windows Phone device. According to Hinckley, “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.”

Hinckley was also part of a project published back in November centered on grip of a tablet.

According to Hinckley, “if we want to really understand touch (as well as its future as a technology) then we need to deeply understand these other modalities — grasp and movement, and perhaps many more — and thereby draw out the full naturalness and expressivity of interaction with tablets (and mobile phones, and e-readers, and wearables, and many dreamed-of form-factors perhaps yet to come).”

Does this sound better than a much larger jump from the traditional smartphone we hypothesized yesterday?

This bit and more were shown at CHI 2016 and shared by Microsoft this week. Could it be that the next generation in touch-friendly displays will come from Microsoft, not Apple, Google, or Samsung?


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