TouchTap wants to make your entire phone a touchscreen

A Cambridge based company called Input Dynamics, plans to bring touchscreen and touchpanel capability to every mobile phone, Pocket-lint has learnt.

The company, who plans to have an app in the summer, and be hard coded in some mobile phones by the end of the year uses the phone’s microphone to monitor the sound of tapping on the screen and the phone’s casing to enable different functions on your smartphone.

“The app works by mapping the back of the handset based on the noise that you make when you click it”, explains Mike Bradley, director of business development, from Input Dynamics to Pocket-lint.

Born out of Cambridge University by Professor Simon Godsill, the technology, called TouchTap, monitors the acoustic differences different parts of the phone's casing makes and then maps those noises according.

“It needs to be mapped to a set handset”, says Bradley.

Hoping to extend the input options of the entire handset, not just the screen area, a tap anywhere on the phone can be used to open a function or enable a feature.

“Input Dynamics’ ‘virtual touchscreens and touchpanels’ are enabled via software, using a device’s existing microphone to create natural interaction with multimedia applications. The Touch Tap technology can easily be embedded into new hardware or applied to existing mobile phones and devices as an application”, says Bradley.

While certain handsets like the Motorola Backflip already have a second touchscreen panel on the back of the phone, this is the first time that a technology would allow you to interact with a handset regardless of whether it has a touchpanel or not.

It could also, theoretically, mean that thousands on none touchscreen devices like many of the BlackBerry handsets from RIM could be made to be pseudo-touchscreen.

Bradley even goes one step further saying: “Input Dynamics’ Touch Tap technology also lends itself to extending the capabilities of devices such as e-readers and e-ink products, which use reflective screens which are impaired when a touchscreen layer is added. In fact, any device which has a screen, including media players, set top boxes, DVD player’s through to televisions, can make use of the tapping interface. With a few taps, strokes, scratches or swipes, users can scroll, zoom, pan and select for a simple intuitive user experience”. 

Bradley believes one of the best uses of the new technology will be in allowing people to double tap anywhere on the phone to either cancel a call when it’s in your pocket, or to answer it without having to fumble for the right button.

Starting out on Android first, Bradley says they are already working with two of the top mobile phone companies, but wouldn’t be drawn on saying who they are.

Olympus already has a similar tech on some of its cameras. Called Tap Control, and available since 2009, the system allows people to tap the side of the case to flick through images they’ve already taken without having to take off gloves.



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