(Phys.org)—Touchscreen computing as an "experience" has only just begun. Working on ideas they seeded at Carnegie Mellon, computer-human interaction researchers have started a San Jose, California, company Qeexo, that features technology called FingerSense. With FingerSense, the computer user can perform tasks with more than just the finger's tips, expanding the use of the finger over to using knuckles and nails. Each part of the finger can order up different tasks, such as managing e-mail content, managing objects in computer games and rubbing-in features when sketching a face. They have managed to expand the concept of fingerpad as the sole interface that can be used on the touchscreen.
They are showing the world expanded finger options. Tomorrow's mobile user may think nothing, for example, of knocking twice with a knuckle to bring up a new page.
The company website is thin on technical details; little is said how it is done under the hood, but their video offers an impressive appreciation of what is done. When playing games, for example, the user knocks coconuts with knuckles, squashes berries with fingerpads, and slices bananas with nails. But how does Qeexo's technology enable the computer to differentiate between fingertip, nail, or knuckle on a touch screen? Their FingerSense technology involves an acoustic sensor that is small enough to fit inside a smartphone and can capture mechanical vibrations made by various touches. This can pick up on different "sounds."
Chris Harrison, Julia Schwarz, and Scott Hudson, authors at Carnegie Mellon of a paper on finger interaction on Touch Surfaces, noted back in 2011 how "humans use different parts of their fingers in different ways – to scratch an itch, type on a keyboard, tap a co-worker on the shoulder, or knock on a door." They thought about this and how, with careful design, these norms could be leveraged "such that existing finger behaviors could be ported to and made relevant in digital domains."
At a time when direct-touch interfaces are around in everyday life, from mall store kiosks, to tablets and smartphones, it is not difficult to understand that Qeexo is upbeat about its future. Qeexo was spun off from Carnegie Mellon University this year and there is both an office in San Jose and also a R&D team in Pittsburgh. According to reports, they are talking to phone manufacturers, and they hope to see FingerSense in smartphones within a year.
Explore further: TapSense touchscreen technology distinguishes taps by parts of finger (w/ video)