Ever since Apple debuted the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with 3D Touch technology, it generated a ton of rumors to suggest that other companies would soon start to include pressure-sensitive displays in their phones, which unfortunately does not appear to be the case at the moment. Could it be manufacturing costs that have put some OEMs off?
Perhaps, but now there is a piece of software for smartphones that could change that. Dubbed ForcePhone, this software was created by engineers at the University of Michigan and it will pretty much give any smartphone pressure sensitive displays, and the best part is that it won’t require new hardware as it will be able to take advantage of existing ones.
It will rely on your smartphone’s microphone and speaker. The app will emit a sound at 18kHz which is basically inaudible to the human ear, but not too high where your phone’s microphone can’t pick up on it. From there whenever you press your finger against your phone’s screen, the pitch will change and will keep changing depending on how hard you’re pressing.
From there, we guess it’s really up to the developer how they want to take advantage of it. According to University of Michigan doctoral student Yu-Chih Tung, “Having expensive and bulky sensors installed into smartphones can solve every problem we have solved, but the added cost and laborious installation prevent phone manufacturers from doing it. Our sound-based solution can fill this gap, providing the functionality without making any hardware modification. Everything is just software.”
Before you get too excited, the ForcePhone software isn’t ready for commercialization just yet and will demo it in Singapore at MobiSys come 27-29th of June.
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