- 18 Apr 08, 13:57 GMT
Forget multi-touch, or tilt control accelerometers... Microsoft researchers have been working on force sensing technology that would let you bend/twist/stretch/squeeze your handheld device in order to control it.
The research has been carried out at Microsoft's Cambridge lab by James Scott, Lorna Brown and Mike Molloy. You can read their research paper here (pdf). All the images in this post come from the research paper.
The technology allows users to apply force to their portable device in order to carry out on-screen actions, such as flip a page in a document or switching between applications.
The researchers noted that more and more devices are becoming, in effect, large screens, with fewer physical buttons. They believe the technology could work in parallel with existing human computer interfaces, like multi-touch and tilt.
The technology uses four sensors that are embedded into the casing of the device so it does not have to be made out of special flexi-material.
The authors state: "With force sensing, the user interacts with the casing of the device, turning an otherwise passive component that just holds the device together into an active input surface."
To research the tech, the scientists made a prototype using a Samsung UMPC and gave visual and audio feedback to the user when applying force.
The scientists wrote: "The current prototype provides a click sound when enough force is applied to reach the end of the animation and lock in the new view.
"We plan to incorporate richer audio cues in future, eg cues which also match the physical action taken such as a crumpling sound or page-flicking sound."
The scientists noted: "Compared to shaking or tilting the device or using a touch screen, force sensing allows the screen to be kept at the most natural viewing angle and un-obscured."
The report makes some recommendations about changes needed to the sensors used as well as some conclusions about how much force is needed to be employed.
For example, should more force equate to a quicker pace of action, such as turning the page?
They concluded: "It allows mobile devices to avoid using up valuable form factor space on keys and therefore to be smaller, and it turns the passive casing into an active input thus maximising the utility of the whole surface area of the device."
So what do you think? Do you feel the force?
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites