Microsoft Pre-Touch Sensing Technology

In the era of evolving technology, which has resulted in far better touch screens from resistant touch inputs to the capacitive digitizers, Microsoft has demoed its Pre-Touch sensing technology.

The new technology by the Redmond giants anticipates the user’s fingers before the actually touches the display. The company has also posted a video on YouTube, which showcases the uses of Pre-Touch Sensing. It will enable the smartphone manufacturers to add an entirely new approach to their upcoming products.

Hyperlinks appear only when fingers are near the touchscreen
Hyperlinks appear only when fingers are near the touchscreen

Ken Hinckley, a principal researcher at Microsoft who led the project, said the research is based on a whole different philosophy of interaction design.  The research uses the phone’s ability to sense how you are gripping the device as well as when and where the fingers are approaching it.

“It uses the hands as a window to the mind,” Hinckley said. By allowing the interfaces to adapt to you, on the fly, they are always tailored to the specific context of how you are currently holding or using your phone.

“I think it has huge potential for the future of mobile interaction,” he said. “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.”

Dials for scrubbing videos instead of sliders
Dials for scrubbing videos instead of sliders

Despite the orientation sensor, the feature has capability to get the location of fingers around the edges of the handset, which can let it guess that the user is holding the phone with one hand or two hands. The proximity screen senses the finger is close to it and allows the phone to anticipate the gesture to provide contextual menus, which majorly based on how the user is holding the device.

For an instance, the UI of a video player adapts to a single handed or a double handed view. Also, the video players request the user to seek the progress bar to navigate a particular instant on the video. While, the volume is typically adjusted with a horizontal slider on top.

A research manager in Microsoft Research’s Visual and Interaction Research Group, Czerwinski said the conference “has been one of the premiere venues for disseminating research in the area of human-computer interaction, and has been one of the best vehicles for Microsoft’s mission: To empower every person and every organization to achieve more.”

The new technology by Microsoft could be used to make cleaner web browsers with hyperlinks and buttons for embedded multimedia content showing up around the area of the finger, and only when required.

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