Audio-based touch for old handsets

September 10, 2010 | 09:35

Tags: #handset #phone #smartphone #touch #touch-interface #touchscreen #user-interface

Companies: #input-dynamics

A Cambridge-based firm is looking to give every phone a touch interface with an innovative sound-based system, which it claims requires no additional hardware.

The basic principle behind Input Dynamics' technology is similar to that demonstrated back in 2009 by Sensitive Object: rather than having a physical panel, a sensor picks up the vibrations of your finger moving anywhere on the object and uses that to determine what you're trying to do.

Where the system developed by Input Dynamics differs, according to New Scientist, is that it dispenses with the piezoelectric sensors in favour of a sensor that your handset is already guaranteed to have: the microphone.

As well as turning a standard display into a touch-screen, allowing the same sort of control that a traditional touch-screen would offer, the effect can be extended throughout the body of the handset; running your finger along the back might adjust the volume, for example, or a tap on the side could bring up a particular application.

The software powering the system is still very much at the concept stage, with Input Dynamics admitting that at the moment, it's only able to discern a tap and not a swipe action, but the company claims to be refining the algorithms to detect differing actions - and possibly even to enable multi-touch tracking.

The man behind the technology, Giovanni Bisutti, claims to be in talks with "tier-one handset manufacturers" about building the software into their devices, with the possibility that it could even be ported to existing handsets via a software download.

Whether the acoustic signature, which is currently accurate to around one square centimetre, can be refined enough to replace expensive touch-screen components altogether remains to be seen.

Do you think that this sort of technology could spell the future of low-end handsets, or will capacitive touch-screens always rule the roost? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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