Researchers have developed a prototype for a touchscreen that can allow its users to send text messages even when it is kept inside a jacket or pants pocket.The stealthy screen works when it is touched through the fabric, whether it is silk, cotton or even thick fleece, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. In classes or meetings of the future, with your hands tucked underneath the conference table or desk, the user may rest a fingertip tactfully on the pocket that holds the touch screen and handle a call by tracing a message like “Running late. In a mtg.” on the fabric above the hidden screen.
The touch screen will comprehend the message - it has a program to decode handwriting, even of the scrawling sort. So even while a person is writing on his pocket, he can maintain polite eye contact with the group, no longer betrayed by those telltale downward gazes necessary to text with a standard screen.
The technology, called PocketTouch, is the brainchild of Microsoft researchers Scott Saponas and Hrvoje Benko with Chris Harrison, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The prototype uses sensors similar to those used in most touch screens, and is mounted on the back of a smartphone case.
“There are a lot of situations where this technology could be useful,” said Jeffrey Bigham, an assistant professor in the computer science department at the University of Rochester, who chaired a conference panel on computer user interfaces where PocketTouch was demonstrated. “It’s a way to send short messages when it is not socially appropriate to fish out your device,” he said, or in many other instances when people simply don''t want to go to the trouble of removing a device from a pocket.
“Most touch screens are calibrated in a static way, only responding to direct touch with a finger, and rejecting a slightly different signal,” Benko added. On the contrary, PocketTouch calibrates continuously, adapting to different kinds of fabrics.