Forget 3D Touch, Microsoft is working on Pre-Touch sensitive displays

Where Apple's 3D Touch forces you to press down hard on your smartphone screen to access related features, Microsoft's experimental Pre-Touch technology removes touching from the equation almost entirely! Redmond's pre-touch sensing works a lot like Samsung's Air Command functionality present in its stylus-equipped Note devices. It lets users hold the S-Pen stylus above the display to interact with it without touching the glass.

However, Air Command only responds to stylus input, whereas Microsoft's invention traces your fingers hovering above the smartphone's screen and uses this data to make using it more convenient. Both above-screen and grip-detection is implemented, leading towards some really nice-to-have results! For example, a video player app detects your fingers approaching the display and automatically shows the on-screen controls.

If the algorithm detects that the user's holding the device in one hand, the software shows special modified controls that allow for easier thumb access. Likewise, the controls will change if the user approaches with a second hand, accommodating the additional fingers. In the case of a web browser, hovering your digits above a link can highlight it or generate a preview. All of this without touching the smartphone screen!

The technology certainly allows for useful and rather clever usability improvements, but it will be up to app developers to make the best of it. We expect to see Pre-Touch on Windows and possibly Android devices in the coming year or two.

source: Phandroid



1. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

So basically Samsungs Airview introduced in the S4

6. legiloca

Posts: 1676; Member since: Nov 11, 2014

Yeah.. the feature that they blatantly called GIMMICK!

8. ananthu07 unregistered

difference being samsung did it so that you can swipe through photos, and view calendar events without touching. This, on the other hand presents the same controls based on your hands' positions to make it more ergonomic.

21. Nopers unregistered

I don't know if you know this, but hovering fingers over a display isn't as easy or precise as touching it, doesn't sound very ergonomic to me.

25. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Agreed. Plus, what is the actual benefit of not touching the screen vs touching it? Other than for people with OCD, germaphobes, or the wow factor, I don't see the benefit of not touching the screen.

44. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

This can be used like force touch to open a preview of a webpage or email ect.

45. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I realize that. My point was, why is a finger hovering over the area be more beneficial than simply touching the screen? Even with Air View I just don't see the advantage. I understand the advantages of the Force Touch/right click premise, I don't see why hovering is better than touching. And like Nopers said, touching should be more precise as well.

49. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Its come to how they do the implimentation. The way they want to do it sound pretty nice.

53. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Regardless of how they implement it, it comes down to touching the area you want, or hovering over it.

70. tedkord

Posts: 17505; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It's exactly the same concept as Force Touch, only with a different implementation. It offers the exact same advantages/disadvantages.

52. maxnooze

Posts: 31; Member since: Apr 02, 2013

Compare it to hovering with a mouse on a computer screen.. there are many applications

54. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Not really the same, since with a mouse you are actually touching something, the mouse. They're essentially saying it's the same thing as Force Touch, but hovering over the target rather than touching with more pressure. I don't see it as being as accurate due to needing sensors to pinpoint where your finger is vs an actual touch registered on the screen. To me this seems like trying to do the same thing but in another way. And if it's not as accurate as I believe it won't be, then what's the point?

56. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Not sure about you, but I think most peopel toucvh their screen 100's of times a day. If you dont wipe your phone, its basically covered in prints. Maybe if I could perform many functions and touch the display 100 times less, maybe it will have less prints. Airview on the S4 was awesome, I only wished it worked in more than just the Gallery and Browser. This is what makes the Note so good is, you NEVER have to use your finger at all. Every function your finger can do, the S-Pen can too. I've gotten into a bigger habit of using the Pen even to just launch apps, and it has helped me have to wipe my device much less now. So yes its gimmicky, yes it can be useful. It can have a purpose. After all I rather buy a phone with features, that one charging high prices for NONE! Bring it Microsoft! After all YOU don't have to buy this phone. Or some OEM may license this tech for their brand of phone.

58. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

It's not hovering. Today if you want to get the controls to pop up you tap the screen once and the controls pop up. This essentially detects you are going to make a tap so it shows you the controls as you do it depending where you go to tap. It's really about how it's implemented. This is the part that's going to be hard if they do go through with it.

22. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

huge difference the samsung phone your hand had to go through the sensor on the top of the screen, usually by the above camera this might be interesting but will have to see how it pans out in the future to early to tell.

23. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

No you didn't, hovering could be done above the entire screen. And of course there will be a difference in software implementation, however hovering above your screen was a drag.

34. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

you sure about that? Airview had a second sensor, IR that compared the distance between the two sensors. Step 19.

40. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

I was under the impression that he meant your hand had to be hovering over the camera area, which isn't true. But the second IR sensor was indeed used to see if your hand was floating over the screen. Still the hardware behind Samsung Airview and Microsoft Pre-Touch might be different, what it does, is very similar.

48. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Yes different but certainly more useful. It was a gimmick because it didn't work the way it should have. If it doesn't catch on, which Samsung dropped later, then it's a gimmick. This has greater potential especially for glove users, dirty hands etc. And with no sensor to cloud up like a dual IR setup.

64. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Come running to Microsoft defense as usual... Must be such a burden to be a Microsoft fan.

65. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Let me know how that airview works for you on the S7 Edge +....

66. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

While I don't personally find much use for gesture in general I am sure there are people that would like it. For me I use Samsung IR blaster more but my friend inform me that he don't find much use as dedicated remote is more convenient. At the end of the day, to each his own.

71. tedkord

Posts: 17505; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Not catching on doesn't mean gimmick. This didn't catch on because all the Samsung haters decried it a gimmick the instant it was announced. Most of them are the same folks who think force touch is innovation o of the highest order.

57. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Slightly better video demo'ing feature - In general I agree it was a drag, because the S4 was so laggy the features would stall much of the time. But when it was updated to Lollipop the performance was better and the features worked better. It mostly just came down to learning just where your finger needed to be above the display to perform the functions. I got use to it and I liked it for the most part. But overall it si faster to just tocuh the screen. Which I guess is what VZW User is mostly saying and I also agree. But its still nice.

30. iushnt

Posts: 3171; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

You have no idea about the air view of Galaxy S4

33. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

you sure about that? Airview had a second sensor, IR that compared the distance between the two sensors. Step 19.

68. sniper1087

Posts: 537; Member since: Dec 31, 2011

Yes I do because I had the S4 as well and there is a sensor that registers if your hand is hovering you used it in the gallery to change pictures by swiping, but it felt like half baked did not work half the time and you had to move your hand through the sensor everytime to make sure it recognized the command which was a drag to do, it works better on the Note series because you dont have to do that because of the pen.

7. UglyFrank

Posts: 2200; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I remember impressing my friends with the air view scene preview feature in 2013

32. torr310

Posts: 1720; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

I think this uses the Thermal sensor to detect the movements. However, it is not useful under the cold weather!

43. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Can you make it so if you use your phone single handed the keyboard automatically go to the correct corner of the screen for easy 1 hand operation? and then modify the keyboard automatically to better position if two hand used in portrait mode and do same in landscape ( lets say keyboard only in lower right part of the screen in landscrape when you use one handed and then open up a full keyboard when both hand are on device ) I think Microsoft implimentation is less Gimmicky.

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