Microsoft Cambridge unveil new pressure-based interface

Users free to bend, twist, stretch and squeeze their way through applications

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By  Quintin Smith Published  April 20, 2008

Researchers at Microsoft’s Cambridge lab have developed a new tactile interface for mobile devices that uses force-sensing technology.

Four sensors embedded into the casing of the prototype device allow it to detect whether it’s being bent, stretched, compressed or twisted. There’s no need for the device itself to be flexible in any sense. And of course the screen of the device can be kept unobscured and at an ideal viewing angle at all times.

In the future, this technology could be used in conjunction with traditional input methods for handheld devices to allow a greater degree of control.

Speaking about their project, the researchers said: "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.

"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, e.g. cues which also match the physical action taken such as a crumpling sound or page-flicking sound."

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