The perfect “clickbait” isn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what we thought as well, until we took a second look at the YouTube demo video, courtesy of the University of Michigan computer engineers (official channel and everything).
It sounds almost too good to be true, but the technology does look pretty plausible and the creator – Yu-Chih Tung could actually be on to something big, despite skipping to mention the Huawei Mate S in his list of force-sensitive mobile phones. That small error, however, can be easily forgiven once you hear just how ingenious his squeeze and forceful touch detection approach actually is.
The system relies solely on a speaker and microphone combo, something that is by definition present in virtually every handset out there. While the software is operating, it emits tones at a frequency higher than 18 kHz – inaudible to humans, but still within the range of the device’s microphone. Now, for the really clever part – the software is designed to detect minute changes to the sound wave that occur when the user squeezes or touches the phone a bit harder. Naturally, the really tricky part is to differentiate between said changes and isolate the noise, but judging from the demo, the system shows great promise and appears to be already working.
Now, before you ask, there doesn’t seem to be a demo app or any code available yet. Still, it is encouraging to see that the researchers over at the University of Michigan already have a few practical ideas for future implications, which could easily make it to end uses and be greatly beneficial.