Microsoft Reveals 'Pre-Touch' Tech for Kinect-Like Gestures on Mobile

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Microsoft Reveals 'Pre-Touch' Tech for Kinect-Like Gestures on Mobile
Highlights
  • Microsoft Research unveiled 'Pre-Touch' tech in a video.
  • The tech seems to have scope for several new types of interaction.
  • Microsoft is anticipated to bring the tech to its rumoured Surface Phone.

Microsoft had been rumoured to be working on a Kinect-like gesture interface for smartphones from all the way back in 2014. While that never came to fruition on a device, the company's research arm has shared a video detailing its work on a similar interface.

The Microsoft Research video, titled Pre-Touch Sensing for Mobile Interaction, showcases how users can interact with a smartphone's touchscreen display without actually touching the surface (pun unintended), by simply hovering their fingers over it. The video shows how the Pre-Touch technology can intelligently understand the difference between similar gestures like swiping and selecting.

The Pre-Touch technology appears to use a variety of sensors to detect the position of the user's hands, including whether the smartphone is being held one-handed, or if it is being gripped on both sides. The video also shows a 'hybrid touch + hover gesture'. Using this knowledge, the firm reveals how these gestures can bring up several interface options, from manipulating the volume in a video player, contextual options for files and Live Tiles, swiping through webpages, and even playing games.

For now, there is no indication as to when (or if ever) Microsoft will include the Pre-Touch technology in its smartphones. If introduced, it will be interesting to see how the feature competes with Apple's 3D Touch interface, and other pressure sensitive and gesture-based interaction models.

Of course, the long-rumoured Microsoft Surface Phone may sport the feature. Several reports have pegged different launch dates for the Surface Phone, from the second half of 2016, to three variants in early 2017. The most recent Surface Phone report had tipped the smartphone would be powered by a Snapdragon 830 SoC, coupled with 8GB of RAM.

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Abhinav Lal Abhinav Lal is News Editor at Gadgets 360 and has been tracking all things tech for over a decade now. He has written extensively on a range of topics including apps, gaming, mobiles, PCs, and Web services in his tech journalism career. Apart from editing news, he also works on reviews and features, while taking care of the product side of things at Gadgets 360. Write to him at abhinavl@ndtv.com or get in touch on Twitter. You will most likely find Abhinav editing stuff for Gadgets 360, ...More
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