While today pressure sensitivity is a feature only the newest and fresh out of the box iPhones have, tomorrow this could be the case for every smartphone out there.
A team of University of Michigan engineers, ironically, inspired by a Batman movie, thought about turning smartphones into a “sonar-based system.”
Apple emphasized on the technology it took for their engineers to develop the 3D pressure sensitivity feature on their iPhone 6s, but the Michigan researchers went and created their own low-cost feature. They’ve also improved it and its efficiency, and we’re hoping the feature will become mainstream real soon.
How did they improve this pressure sensitivity feature? Well, with their software, not only is the phone able to detect pressure, but it can also tell when it is being squeezed.
The program works through ultra-sound. Kang Shin, an electrical engineering, and computer science professor at Michigan University and his grad student Yu-Chih Tung confess in their university press release that The Dark Knight was an inspiration for this idea.
To find Joker, Batman turns all the phones into sonic device locators, so Tung thought turning phones into sonar-based systems could lead to applications that might help smartphones users.
How exactly does it work through ultra-sound? Just by borrowing two of the phone’s attributes, the speaker, and the microphone. Apparently when pressure is applied on the screen or the phone’s body, the speaker emits a sound between 18 to 24 kHz, then the microphone imbedded in the phone detects these wave sounds and the software reacts.
The human ear cannot reach this range, nor are any dogs affected by it. As the engineers say, there’s no need for built-in sensors or a special touch screen, what their technology does is improve the communication between the user and its phone.
The two researchers admit it doesn’t have the level of detail iPhone 6s or Wacom tablet sensors have, but you can “rely on it as a gesture;” it is not binary, varying pressure can be applied to it.
The so-called ForcePhone or pressure sensitivity feature allows users to command their devices differently and access their phones more efficiently. The work of the two engineers will be presented at MobiSys in Singapore this next month.
Image Source: Engadget