Yes, even if you’re not using the latest Apple smartphones.

Do you want to get 3D Touch on your smartphone? Well, this is good news for you. Researchers from University of Michigan have found a way to do just that.

There’s a scene in at “The Dark Night” movies when Batman himself turned all the smartphones in Gotham City into a sonar system, which enabled him to get a 3D view live. Most of us would have probably seen that as just another movie stunt, but Yu-Chih Tung had a brilliant in mind. “I thought it was an interesting idea to turn smartphones into a sonar-based system and felt this could lead to new applications to address challenges faced by smartphone users,” the Computer Science PhD student said.


Can my smartphone get this? Probably. It’s because it relies only at the device’s speaker and microphone to work. The ForcePhone software emits a high-frequency 18kHz sound, which normal humans can’t hear. However, the devices’ microphone can still detect and pick it up.

ForcePhone uses Sonar to pull off a “3D Touch”.

Once a user presses a finger on the screen, it will alter the signal and it will send a command through the software. Pressing harder and pressing in patterns will initiate different commands as well. Squeezing the phone will also be detected, paving the way for a whole new world of interacting with our devices.

“You don’t need a special screen or built-in sensors to do this. Now this functionality can be realized on any phone. We’ve augmented the user interface without requiring any special built-in sensors. ForcePhone increases the vocabulary between the phone and the user.” said Kang Shin, Computer Science Professor at University of Michigan.

“Having expensive and bulky sensors installed into smartphones can solve every problem we have solved, but the added cost and laborious installation prevent phone manufacturers from doing it. Our sound-based solution can fill this gap, providing the functionality without making any hardware modification. Everything is just software.” Yu-Chih Tung said.

The team has another application available in the Play Store. Dubbed as BumpAlert, it’s meant for people who like to use their phones walking. The app uses the rear camera and high-frequency sound waves to detect if an object is nearby, alerting the user before a collision.

The ForcePhone software is not yet ready for the commercial market as of the moment, but the researchers promised that they will demo it on June 27-29 at MobiSys 2016 in Singapore.

[Source: University of Michigan | Via: Engadget]

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