The ultimate smart device does exactly what you want before you to tell it to. It sounds like an impossible expectation, but Microsoft brings us one step closer to that fantasy with a prototype smartphone that can detect and react to hover gestures before you even tap the screen.
We’re not quite at the point where just thinking about a YouTube video automatically starts playing it on your device, but this is still a cool trick. Using sensors located along the edge of the device, this Microsoft prototype is able to determine exactly how it’s being held and sense when a user’s trying to interact with it, without actually having to touch the screen.
In the most notable demonstration of the technology in the video above, the playback controls automatically pop up when a user moves their fingers towards the display. When the device is held with two hands, the controls appear in the centre of the screen. But when it’s held with just one, the controls jump to either side so that they can be easily accessed by the user’s thumb.
The video doesn’t give any indication of if or when Microsoft plans to move this technology from the research stage to actual consumer products, but it could be a truly unique feature for the company’s handsets, particularly given how disappointing they have been to date. And it could easily give Apple’s limited 3D Touch functionality some fierce competition.
The best part, though? Imagine if you never had to touch your smartphone’s screen ever again. The days of constantly having to wipe away greasy fingerprints would be gone forever.