Microsoft’s passion for 3D touch technology is by no means a secret. The company has been experimenting with it for many years now, and it was even slated to put out a phone that utilizes it at one point. That was the fabled McLaren Windows Phone that got canceled. But the company hasn’t given up on 3D touch tech, as a new video from Microsoft Research shows. Note that, 3D touch from Microsoft is very different to what Apple and Google are doing, despite using a similar moniker.
The company has been slowly evolving and enhancing the idea of 3D touch and they seem to have now reached a point where the tech could actually be useful. The technology relies on the electromagnetic field created by a phone's touch matrix, which detects when a user hovers his fingers near the screen. Using one of the prototype McLaren devices to show it off, researchers demonstrate a number of use cases where 3D touch could come in handy. For example, de-cluttering the screen from controls, or making text selections easier are just two of the ways 3D touch can be used.
Many people deemed the rumored McLaren phone to be little more than a gimmick, but Microsoft is showing that there are legitimate use cases for this tech and that touchscreens still have room to evolve. But before you bemoan the canceled flagship Windows Phone, you should note that despite showing up in the video, the tech you see here is new and very different to what would’ve shipped on the Nokia handset a couple of years ago.
Also worth pointing out is that this technology comes from Microsoft Research, not an actual product team, so you shouldn’t get your hopes up that we’ll see this in an upcoming product. That being said, Microsoft Research is more focused on marketable technology nowadays, so 3D touch still has a chance of showing up in a phone or tablet sooner rather than later.