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ForcePhone could add 3D Touch for all smartphones

Tap pressure could be calculated based on sound frequencies for a faux 3D Touch experience
Tap pressure could be calculated based on sound frequencies for a faux 3D Touch experience
Special software could replace dedicated pressure sensitivity hardware by using the smartphone's existing speaker and microphone.

3D Touch for all smartphones? One ambitious research team from the University of Michigan is developing software to enhance the pressure sensitivity of most any Android or iOS smartphone. Interestingly, the software does not require special sensors as the experimental software would utilize the microphone and speaker instead. The phone would be able to calculate the force of the user's tap by emitting a high-pitch 18 kHz tone that is inaudible to human ears. Pressure changes (such as from the user's finger) would alter the frequency of this sound, which would then be registered by the microphone and processed accordingly by the smartphone. As a result, every smartphone could theoretically support the software with a quick video demonstration by the researchers embedded below.

Force Touch or 3D Touch opens the door to all-new gestures. As an example, one could link websites or phone numbers to special taps on the screen or play games with improved touchscreen controls. 3D Touch was recently implemented on the latest iPhone refresh while the Huawei Mate S is one of the very few (if not only) major Android smartphone available with a similar feature. More about the software will likely be presented for the first time to the public at this coming MobiSys Conference from June 27 to 29 in Singapore.



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Alexander Fagot/ Allen Ngo, 2016-05-30 (Update: 2024-05-28)