Touchscreens are everywhere, but they haven’t really moved beyond the basic gestures made famous by the iPhone eight years ago. Sure, there’s 3D Touch, which adds pressure as an input dimension, but what if you’re looking for a solution that’s not tied down to a single platform? That’s just what Qeexo is doing.
‘Slap a touchscreen on it’ seems to be the mantra for tech companies. Resistive touch got killed off by capacitive screens, the iPhone led to the iPad, touchscreen laptops became common, and even your car stereo and fridge (a fridge that can tell us how much beer’s left and also let us order more would be perfect) have decided to join the party. But we still use touchscreens in pretty much the same way as we used to a decade ago. So, is there life after multi-touch?
The next step
3D Touch? That’s only present on iOS devices, and while some Android makers are working on pressure-sensing tech, there’s nothing that could one day become a standard. Why does this matter? According to Qeexo, one of the reasons why touchscreens caught on as fast as they did is because there’s no learning curve as such – swiping, scrolling and even pinching-to-zoom is all as intuitive as chugging down a beer and slapping down your credit card.
But what happens when you add in more gestures or every OEM decides to come up with its own input system? Confusion, we expect. And loads of annoyed users who find themselves all at sea when handed a new device.
Ergo, what we need is consistency. And that’s exactly what Qeexo says FingerSense offers. And yet, FingerSense isn’t intended to rival pressure-sensing systems – Qeexo’s tech is more of a shortcut launcher system which should complement whatever tech your device already has.
A new input dimension of touch
You've probably seen FingerSense in action if you’ve used a Huawei or Honor device: draw a circle with your knuckles to capture a part of it, double tap to launch an app, or drag to copy text. Yup, your knuckles become yet another way of interacting with the device. (We reckon it should be called KnuckleSense, but then it’d sound like Silicon Valley slang for the aftermath of a bar fight).
So, how does this work? The geeky answer is ‘machine learning’, but since that’s one of those terms that fly over the head of anyone not an engineer, here’s what it actually is: It’s all ‘done in software’ so it’s easier to implement (and there’s no need for expensive new hardware).
But that doesn’t mean FingerSense will work on any old phone – Qeexo says it needs to work with device makers to optimise FingerSense for a consistent and responsive experience.
There’s an app for that
Still, a launcher app is on the way, Windows 10 support is in the works, and there’s even a Nexus 6P developer image (with baked-in FingerSense) brave souls can try playing with.
Now, we know what you’re thinking – what’s in it for gamers? It’s a pretty smart question, we must say, ‘cos if there’s anything that would really benefit from an additional way of input, it’s a fast-and-furious mobile RPG.
But don’t you worry, as Qeexo’s working on getting developers on board, and there’s even a Fruit Ninja demo which supports Fingersense – you just gotta tap with your knuckles to break a coconut. (Warning: that’s not something you should ever try in real life).
A ‘natural’ touchscreen experience?
While FingerSense might be the affordable next step to multi-touch, there’s something else Qeexo’s been brewing up (and we must say, it sounds a lot more interesting) – TouchTools. Touchtools is a bit similar to FingerSense in terms of adding new ways of interacting with a touchscreen, but it does so with the use of gestures akin to those you’d use in real life.
Just imagine you had a drawing app with support for TouchTools. Normally, you’d have to tap on a toolbar to select an eraser or a pen. But with Touchtools, all you have to do is hold your hand like you were grabbing the right tool: Scrunch up your fingers and move them on the screen like you’re erasing a sketch, and a TouchTools-enabled drawing app will automatically select the eraser and get to work.
Pretty cool, we must say. Though we wonder what happens when you’ve got loads of tools to select from.