Touchscreen technology thus far has been at best responsive to fingertips only. That may soon be a thing of the past. New Scientist reports that a computer scientist from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania has prepped a prototype smartphone, bundled with his FingerSense Technology. The display of the phone is responsive to touch from knuckles, nails, and fingertips, and is adept at recognising the different touch sensations. What Harrison has now in prototype may well herald the next-generation in touchscreen technology. Quoting Harrison on his newest innovation, the report adds, “A big problem with touchscreens right now is that they are very simplistic, relative to the capability of our hands. We could do so much more.” 

In a video demo on his website, Qeexo, which is incidentally where Harrison will sell the device, he gives us a glimpse of the future. The video shows a Galaxy S III in action, prepped with Harrison's technology. The smartphone can distinguish between different touch sensations – knuckles, nails, and fingertips. The demo shows the different ways in which it can be used. For example, the video shows the knuckle touch works like the right click on a mouse, wherein a user has access to more options.  

The video shows how a knuckle tap, while viewing images in a gallery, opens a host of other options that enable a user to share better. The video also shows that the software also recognises the touch of an inexpensive stylus, paving the way for newer applications. There can be a sketching application too, with support for several tools such as a paintbrush, a pen with an eraser. For the more creative, there is the ability to smudge using one’s fingers for added effect. The video also shows how a game could be made better with some added layers of touch. What is also being planned is a tool wherein a double knuckle tap could be a universal cue to open a notepad for quick note taking. 

Explaining the concept better, a post on the website reads, “Fingers have many “modes” – they do not just poke, as contemporary touchscreen interaction would suggest, but also flick, rub, knock, grasp, and can perform many other actions.  Qeexo wants to bring new dimensions of touch to interactive surfaces, and make better use of the natural richness of our hands.”

On the FingerSense technology, the post adds that it “it is an enhancement to touch interaction”, which it claims lets displays ascertain the ways in which a finger is used for input. “Performance is realtime, low-latency, and power efficient,” it adds. 

The concept of touchscreens has been a widely discussed one. In May last year, we had reported about ZeroTouch, made by Texas A&M University's Interface Ecology Lab. This technology meant that one wouldn't need a capacitive, resistive, or any other type of touchscreen to communicate with a system. Rather, any surface can be used for interaction with the system. 

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