Looking to the future
So what's coming next in the world of touch control?
No touch needed, that's what. Well, it's actually here already. What are we even talking about? The Samsung GALAXY S4 of course.
With a total of nine sensors on the skinny, 7.9mm smartphone, it detects everything from ambient lighting through to air pressure.
These sensors even know when your hand is hovering above your phone and when your eyes are watching it, and with software on board taking full advantage of this hovering and watching, cutting edge touchscreens have never been so touch free.
Air View on the GALAXY S4, for example, turns a hover over part of the UI into an interaction, previewing gallery folders and emails quickly and easily. Air Gesture, another touchless feature means a simple waft over your phone will scroll through your gallery, perfect for those wet handed moments.
Does all of this mean there's no room to innovate in the world of actual touch technology? Of course not. Right now and over the next year, this sensor-based interaction will be honed in combination with touch input to create the most immersive, natural experience around.
We'll also be seeing flexible displays arriving on phones soon enough, once again furthering the scope for touch tech.
How would flexible touch screens work? Imagine if your touch-screen wrapped around the sides of your phone. You wouldn't need physical buttons like a volume rocker. Instead, a swipe along the edge of your phone could hire and lower the volume.
Your phone could easily create dynamic buttons that are context specific too. When you open your camera app for example, a camera button could appear on the side of your phone, and if the phone is in a case with only the top exposed, a small clock could appear on the exposed area. Using Samsung's AMOLED technology, such flexible touchscreen use would be incredibly power efficient and undeniably useful.
So that Minority Report panning and swiping style interaction we've dreamed of for years may not be such a distant dream after all! Trust the movies to give us a sneak peek into the future. That said, one thing not even Tinseltown's finest future-gazing directors predicted was that we'd be doing it all on the go, on our slender phones and in the palms of our hands.
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