This Microsoft sensor could make touching your phone screen a thing of the past

microsoft sensor project may make swiping phone obsolete ms3dfinger

Microsoft Research has announced that it is currently working on a new transparent electric field sensor that may allow users to execute commands on a smartphone without even touching it. The still-unnamed technology (for now we can call it “A Low-Cost Transparent Electric Field Sensor for 3D Interaction on Mobile Devices“) can detect a person’s hand when it floats above a phone screen.

“Our approach requires no direct instrumentation of the hand or body, and is non-optical, allowing for a compact form-factor that is resilient to ambient illumination,” the research team said on the Microsoft website. The company seems to be going all in on gesture recognition. At the Computer Human Interaction conference this week, it also revealed a keyboard with the capability.

The technology is based on an off-the-shelf processor and a custom array that is made up of one transmit electrode and five receiver electrodes. The transmit electrode generates an electric field that is sensed by the five receiver electrodes. When a hand comes near the sensor, the electric field is coupled with the user, which then changes the signal. The technology then employs a machine learning algorithm to map the raw signal at each electrode to a 3D position. It’s all pretty geeky, but it means you don’t have to touch your phone at all to use it.

 If you want to see the new project in action, you can watch the video walkthrough below.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

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!
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 could nix the notch in favor of a "punch hole" cutout

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Emerging Tech

‘Bionic mushroom’ can generate electricity without using fossil fuels

Researchers have come up with a way to produce electricity without fossil fuels using mushrooms covered with bacteria. The mushroom provides a safe environment for special cyanobacteria that generate electricity when light is shone on them.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.
Mobile

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.
Mobile

Get your gaming on the go with this list of the 25 best Android games

The Google Play Store is loaded with both terrific and terrible gaming titles. We vetted the store to bring you some of the best Android games available, whether you're into puzzles, shooters, racing games, or something else.
Mobile

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.
Computing

Cloudflare’s privacy-enhancing 1.1.1.1 DNS service comes to iOS and Android

Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver service has been ported to mobile devices, and now anyone with an Android or iOS device can download it for free to take advantage of its speed and privacy-boosting features.
Deals

The LG V30+ gets a huge price cut on Amazon, today only

Though Amazon early Black Friday deals began at the start of November, the discounts are only just now starting to get good. Today only, Amazon is offering a whopping 40 percent off the unlocked LG V30+.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Social Media

Twitter boss hints that an edit button for tweets may finally be on its way

Twitter has been talking for years about launching an edit button for tweets, but it still hasn't landed. This week, company boss Jack Dorsey addressed the matter again, describing a quick-edit button as "achievable."
Mobile

Lyft’s new rewards program promises ride discounts and comfier cars

If you're always hopping in and out of a Lyft car, then you'll be pleased to hear that the ridesharing service is about to launch a rewards program. Perks include discounts on future trips and upgrades to comfier cars.
Mobile

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.