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Microsoft's next Windows Phone to include 3D Touch technology

by Mark Tyson on 11 June 2014, 13:20

Tags: Windows Phone, PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacfjz

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Nokia, now part of Microsoft, has been developing 3D Touch technology which is expected to debut on a flagship smartphone coming out later this year. The device, codenamed the 'Lumia McLaren', represents Microsoft's latest efforts in exploring the concept of integrating Kinect-like motion detecting features into Windows Phone. This is a unique aspect other companies have yet to include on a mobile device so far, reports The Verge.

The motion controlled 3D touch smartphone will launch under the Lumia brand and will be heading to various US carriers later this year, according to sources familiar with the company's plans. Renowned tipster @Evleaks was the first to announce the existence of the Nokia McLaren and believes it to be the successor to Nokia's Lumia 1020, it sports a similar rear casing and features a powerful camera.

Incorporating 3D touch technology could be a key differentiator for Windows Phones compared to iOS and Android devices, and hopefully give the company a way to gain more users for its mobile platform. The McLaren device is said to allow users to hover their finger over the screen to interact with applications without the need to touch the display, something that Nokia has been developing for the past number of years.

Other intuitive features include:

  • the ability to answer calls by holding the device to your ear
  • enabling speakerphone when you place your phone down on the table during a call
  • hanging up calls by placing the device into a pocket

The above will be possible thanks to the hardware sensors in the device. The device is said to be able to understand the user's calling and response preferences and what they want based on lighting and positioning.

According to The Verge, Microsoft also has some bold long-term plans to use its 3D Touch technology to simplify device interaction as much as possible. For example, the company wishes to be able to "remove buttons like the power button, so phone owners can simply grip their device to power it on." It is also planning to allow the device to detect how it's held by grip, in order for the 3D Touch-enabled device to block orientation switches when for example, the user is lying down in bed. The sides of the smartphone will also be used to access the zoom feature of the camera when users drag their fingers along the sides and interact with the OS.

Take a look at the video below from Microsoft Research and their work on 3D sensing in smartphones.

We have a feeling that Microsoft is working hard to make sure the 3D Touch feature works well out of the box, and we are certainly excited to see the upcoming Nokia McLaren. Amazon is also rumoured to be launching a 3D smartphone later this month. What are your thoughts on 3D Touch features on future smartphones? What application benefits do you think it can bring to mobile device UIs? Let us know in the comments below.



HEXUS Forums :: 8 Comments

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These sound like features I already have on my Samsung Note 2. I don't use any of them.
If I'm planning on answering a call, I'd prefer to consciously make that decision, rather than risk my phone doing something I don't want it to. Equally if I wish to hang up, I don't want to be left wondering whether I'm still connected to that person after I've put the phone in my pocket.

Gimmicks.
miniyazz
These sound like features I already have on my Samsung Note 2. I don't use any of them.
If I'm planning on answering a call, I'd prefer to consciously make that decision, rather than risk my phone doing something I don't want it to. Equally if I wish to hang up, I don't want to be left wondering whether I'm still connected to that person after I've put the phone in my pocket.

Gimmicks.

Yeap , my note 2 can do these things too.

Well done Nokia for catching up with some pointless gimmicks.

Plus with that nick name ‘McLaren’ - bet there will be a massive price premium to have a phone with that name.
Did you guys watch the video?

This is NOTHING, like that.

Think about browsing a web page, many web pages have actions that are triggered by the mouse going over, rather than a click. This can allow that kind of natural interaction.

For example, have a look at:
http://www.reddit.com/r/technology
They have a bar on the right, which when you mouse over (hover over) expands and such.

That idiom is currently not possible on mobile phones.

If this technology is accurate enough, it could really help with selection, for example, think how mobile Chrome works, it has a nice feature if there are many hyperlinks in an area, it puts a magnified version up, letting you select the one you want. You could now do that feature, with only one tap, it would be more natural, as soon as you were nearly touching that hyper link, it would make it easier to delineate the one you want.

This shouldn't be about silly gimmics, I don't think we need another gesture to answer a call or similar, which few people do many times a day. However compare that to selecting text, browsing a web page. Those actions I do many times a day, and would really rather like to be improved.

Hovering is something I miss on a phone, considering how well it worked 10 years ago on my TabletPC.
“the ability to answer calls by holding the device to your ear
enabling speakerphone when you place your phone down on the table during a call
hanging up calls by placing the device into a pocket”

Huh, my Galaxy S3 can do all of those, right out of the box.
Can someone tell me why it took them so long to make this? We have had the technology to do this for decades now. I'm just an amatuer electronics builder, but I can go up to my bin of parts right now and rig up a device that can detect how far away my finger is based on either: ultrasonic pulses, a laser, or even something as simple as ambient light. It could easily be done with capacitance sensing, that's just something that I don't have the technology to build in my basement. And it would be even easier to rig up a 3-axis system to detect 3D movement.