About a year ago, news broke that Microsoft was working on a phone codenamed McLaren that could understand Kinect-like 3D touch gestures. If that wasn’t enough, at some point along the way it was believed to be the sequel to the Lumia 1020. Unfortunately, the McLaren was never meant to be the Lumia 1030, and to add insult to injury, the McLaren was cancelled altogether.
Some even wondered if the McLaren ever existed, but we have proof for you. A two-minute video of the device was posted recently, and it does shed a little light about the mysterious phone and its gesture controls.
The video shows how one finger hovering close to the display can scroll and make selections without actually touching the screen. Interestingly enough, the main home screen of Microsoft’s famous Windows tiles was never shown in the video. It would have been neat to see the tiles because our understanding is that hovering over a Live Tile would transform it into smaller tiles of information. Instead, the user in the video manipulates the Settings screen.
The device in the video was obviously an early prototype, but many will wonder why Microsoft scrapped the project. It might be possible that the company wasn’t able to develop the technology enough or didn’t feel that consumers would embrace it.
It’s also unknown what type of technology Microsoft was using for its gesture controls. One company that developed something similar is Elliptic Labs. That company uses an ultrasound speaker, 3 mems microphones, and the company’s custom software to enable gesture controls. Elliptic Labs did show its tech to various smartphone manufacturing companies, but it has yet to appear in a final product. We saw the technology at CES and MWC, and were quite impressed with its capabilities. Gestures worked from up to seven feet away from the phone.
The following video is Elliptic Labs version of what the McLaren was attempting to do. We’re not saying that the McClaren was using the same technology, but it gives you an even better idea of what Microsoft (or other phone manufacturers) could do with gesture controls.
The McClaren could have been ahead of it’s time, but it’s likely that more 3D touch gestures will appear on smartphones soon enough.