You could soon pair touchscreen devices just by pressing them together

It pretty much goes without saying that — when you consider everything from our smartphones to giant displays like the Microsoft Surface Hub — there are more touch-sensitive displays around than ever.

But how do you easily pair them in a way that fits with the goal of achieving increasingly connected technologies? Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have an answer. They’ve developed a system called CapCam, which lets users pair mobile devices with other touchscreens simply by pressing them together.

It’s a smart, speedy solution — and offers all the file-transferring capabilities that come from pairing devices, without any of the frustrating slowness of a technology like Bluetooth. Nor does it require added hardware like NFC technology. Instead, CapCam uses a device’s built-in camera, which is employed to register a brief flashing color pattern which conveys the instructions for pairing.

“Increasingly we have big, whiteboard-sized interactive touchscreen displays,” researcher Robert Xiao told Digital Trends. “Often these are used in public locations, such as subways. These displays are very useful: they can display information in a way that’s a good complement to smartphones. What we wanted to do with our work was come up with a way to pair these devices with our smartphones quickly and efficiently. We wanted to make it effortless, without fiddling with things like typing in codes or passwords, or scanning a QR code.”

capcam pairing mobile airhockey

A video demonstration created for the project shows off some possible use cases for CapCam. These include useful applications like transferring files from one display to another, as well as more frivolous ones such as being able to use smartphones as paddles for a giant air hockey game on a much larger screen.

At present, the team is searching for a partner interested in licensing and commercializing the technology. Once this happens, it could be just a matter of time before it starts arriving on our mobile devices — possibly even as an app to download.

“You can imagine in the future that as larger touchscreens become ubiquitous, you’ll be able to use them to get important contextual information about your surroundings,” Xiao continued. “Walk up to a map in the mall or a real-time bus schedule, and you could immediately download that information onto your phone using just a tap. Another use case would be going to a meeting, and being able to press your phone to a display and immediately transfer the correct files for a presentation.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Business

Apple banned from distributing some iPhone models in Germany

Apple is following the FTC's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Mobile

Join the Apple club with our complete guide to switching from Android to iOS

If Android simply isn’t cutting it for you anymore, then you might be considering Apple’s warm embrace. Here’s how to make the switch from Android to iOS without losing your contacts, sleep, or hair!
Mobile

Samsung's advanced folding phone needed 'total reconfiguration' to make it real

Samsung has been showcasing bendable display tech for a few years and now a folding smartphone might finally arrive. The Galaxy X, or perhaps the Galaxy Fold, may be the company's first example. Here's everything we know about it.
Mobile

5G phones make a lot of promises. Here’s what to really expect

There has been a lot of marketing copy expounding the potential benefits of 5G networks, but a lot less on the practical implications of 5G smartphones. There's a reason for that.
Wearables

Lack of regulation means wearables aren’t held accountable for health claims

As fitness trackers become more like health monitors, some physicians are concerned they can lead to over-diagnosis of non-existent problems. It’s already happening with wearable baby monitors.
Mobile

Razer’s Wireless Charger will turn your desk into gamer heaven

The Razer Wireless Charger adds colorful flair to your desk or bedside table. It works with any phone that supports Qi wireless charging -- with some quirks -- but is it worth the high price tag? We take a look.
Mobile

Here’s how to download podcasts and listen to them on Android or iOS

Podcasts have become a cultural staple. Here's how to download podcasts and listen to them on your Android or iOS device, and which apps to use if you're looking to get the most out of the format.
Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile is dead: Switch to iOS or Android, Microsoft says

A Microsoft support page detailed the company's plans to end support for Windows 10 Mobile in less than a year. Users with devices powered by the platform are suggested to switch to iOS or Android devices.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

What is fixed wireless 5G? Here’s everything you need to know

Here's fixed wireless 5G explained! Learn what you need to know about this effective new wireless technology, when it's available, how much it costs, and more. If you're thinking about 5G, this guide can help!
Gaming

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Wearables

The best Apple Watch bands and straps to stylize your timepiece

If you have an Apple Watch, you know how easy it is to take off the strap it came with, so why not buy yourself another one? Here, we've gathered the best Apple Watch bands we've seen so far. There's something for everyone.
Mobile

How to choose an iPad in 2019: A practical guide to Apple’s tablets

Selecting an iPad from Apple's lineup can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. Our comprehensive guide should put the numbers and specs in practical, easy-to-understand terms. Find your ideal iPad with the help of our guide.