Synapctics has been showing off its new concept for a touchable interface on a phone, leading the way away from just touch-screen development and into malleable handsets with a phone controllable by the user’s grip.
TomsHardware is reporting on the new device, named “Fuse” for now, boasts hardware from the same folks behind the touch-sensitive trackpads on most notebooks. Of course, there have been some fairly major changes in order to make that work with the exterior of a phone without the whole thing ridiculously difficult to control, but the idea is about the same.
The new device boasts multi-touch sensitivity and the ability to detect force, grip and proximity. We’re told that the grip sensitivity comes from a combination of force sensors and capacitive-based touch sensitivity on the outside of the device.
Perhaps most interesting is the news that the UI is to do something that we’d hear rumours about before the iPhone was released. Users can control the phone itself without those pesky hands of ours getting in the way of the display. Instead, the back of the phone is touch-sensitive, meaning that users can use their fingers on the back of the case to control menu elements on the front.
For now, the Fuse is just a concept, but it seems as though Synaptics is pretty serious about the device. If nothing else, it’s good to see that companies are testing new input methods rather than sticking to multi-touch displays. The fact that it’s all capacitance-based is a little worrying though… we’ve seen people with mittens answering their iPhones with their noses already; it’s hardly ideal.
If you’d like to read more about the device, check out the TomsHardware article on it, where they go into more detail on the actual hardware behind the new control mechanisms.