Touch-screens in the air

16 Jan 2009

Touch-screens may be all the rage in the mobile device sector, but they do have their limitations - namely, screen size and finger size. Microsoft reckons it has the solution: extending the touch-screen field into thin air using infrared sensors.

According to New Scientist, the Sensors and Devices Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge in the UK unveiled SideSight, a technology that 'allows you to control a phone placed on a table by wiggling your fingers in the space around it' up to 10 cm away.

At a symposium on user interfaces in California in October, Microsoft Research's Alex Butler demoed SideSight, using his index finger to control the on-screen cursor of a modified HTC Touch. The sensors allow a finger on the right hand to act as a stylus while the left scrolls up and down.

The chief advantage, says Butler, is that users can interact with the touch-screens without fingers blocking the screen. Downside for now: the sensors impact battery life considerably.

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