It was last year that Apple introduced Force Touch and demoed the things it could do. The sensitivity feature adds an extra functionality on how we could actually control our phone. The 3D Touch takes into consideration the magnitude of pressure applied and accordingly translates the same into commands. Apple bought this feature with the iPhone 6s and it was made possible due to the tiny sensor underneath the display that constantly gauged the pressure applied.
A research team from Michigan university tried implementing the force touch but without using and additional hardware on the phone. This new feature called “ForcePhone” puts the mic and the speaker of the phone into use to achieve the feature. The Michigan team turns the phone into a high frequency sound emitter at 18KHz, it is this frequency that the human ears cant register, but the phones mic can. Whenever the user touches the screen frequency of the sound changes corresponding to the force applied on the display. This change in frequency is converted into commands for the software.
The ForcePhone adds a whole new dimension of functionality for the smartphones without the need to meddle with the hardware. This is that Yu-Chih from the ForcePhone team had to say “Having expensive and bulky sensors installed into smartphones can solve every problem we have solved, but the added cost and laborious installment prevent phone manufacturers from doing it.” He further added, “Our Sound-based solution can fill this gap, providing the functionality without making any hardware modification. Everything is just software.” It sure does make sense, if we can afford to solve a problem by just involving a software the need to add additional hardware is automatically squashed, provided that the efficiency with which the feature works is same in both the cases.
The best part is that ForcePhone even registers the force applied on the side of the phones, for instance you can just swipe through the picture gallery or even your emails by just applying pressure on the periphery of the phone. That being said, the very fact that mic and speaker will be switched on all the time seems to be a point of concern since this is something that would eventually drain out the battery. However, the technology still needs to be fine-tuned for the public usage and the investors are expected to demo the ForcePhone at an upcoming event in Singapore.