New software to bring 3D Touch to any smartphone without additional hardware

3D Touch feature could be controlled with just a smart algorithm, unlike existing hardware that uses built-in sensors.

Folks at the University of Michigan have developed a unique technology dubbed 'ForcePhone' which brings 3D touch-like features to any smartphone without the need for special built-in sensors. This is accomplished with the use of a smart algorithm that evaluates the pressure sensitivity based on the force event on the display.

The entire setup constitutes the use of phone's microphone and speaker wherein the former captures inaudible tones in a frequency higher than 18 KHz whenever the user taps on the screen or squeezes some part of the display.

The phone's microphone then detects the force-touch with the aid of an accelerometer sensor that estimates motion and speed while the built-in 3D Touch software translates recorded tones into commands.

Interested users can get a glimpse of the new ForcePhone technology being shown off at the MobiSys 2016 show in Singapore starting 27 June through 29 June.

The ForcePhone technology employs a pattern recognition system to determine the way you would squeeze the display in your palm for a particular action or a command such as dialling the 911 number or flipping a page on the screen and so on.

Given the lack of pressure-sensitive hardware on the existing smartphones, the use of 3D Touch apps will be limited to two-dimensional Peek and Pop gestures with haptic feedback capability as the hardware currently does not support various degrees of pressure sensitivity for unlocking new actions or commands.

If you are still sceptical, check out the demo video by Yu-Chih Tung, a computer science Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan: