A new technology developed by Qeexo for mobile touchscreens can help smartphones and tablets identify if a user is interacting with their devices via a fingernail, a knuckle, or a fingertip. Many touchscreen todays, by way of capacitive touch technology, can only register input on the display via a fingertip.
Carnegie Mellon researchers have made some small hardware changes to a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone that allows the touchscreen to identify and register these three new inputs. The modified Samsung flagship smartphone is able to differentiate between the three different touchscreen inputs thanks to a small vibration sensor and some smart software.
While registering and understanding that the screen is being poked at by your knuckle, fingertip, or nail in and of itself is not really interesting, the interesting part is when you take into account the number of new gestures that can be unlocked. For instance, New Scientist is reporting that a right click or long press can be done by using your knuckles.
The tech is now being commercialized by Qeexo and the company is saying that it is in discussions with smartphone-makers to embed the sensor and bring this new technology to consumers.
Smartphone-makers have been researching on different ways users interact with the touchscreen. On the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Samsung is experimenting with the active digitizing S Pen stylus so that users can hover over the screen to pull down drop down menus. On Nokia’s latest Windows Phone 8 Lumia offerings, the company is partnering with Synaptics to bring a hyper-sensitive touchscreen that works with fingernails and gloves, though additional gestures and functionality is not enabled with that mode.