If you've ever tried to use your smartphone while standing in a cramped train car, or while carrying a bag of groceries, you soon realise the limitations of a touchscreen UI. You need two hands free, particularly in the age of the jumbophone. So as an alternative means to interact with your device — not a replacement — NTT Docomo in Japan has developed a handset that detects and responds to squeezes.
Understandably called the Grip UI, the prototype surrounds the phone in pressure sensors that work like a series of buttons. So squeezing the handset in specific areas would be translated as different functions. For example, putting more pressure on the left side of the device would jump back a page on a website. There's also the possibility for complex gestures since the prototype seems to be able to measure pressure on all sides at once.
It's good news for usability, but bad news for your one creepy friend who's already too attached to their phone as it is.