Sony’s big announcement this week revolved around the Xperia Sola (previously known as “Pepper“). The device failed to impress us all that much, but Sony had a couple more tricks up its sleeve including SmartTags and a new technology they are calling Floating Touch. The latter raised some questions, which the Japanese manufacturer tries to explain in a recent blog post.
In a nutshell, Floating Touch allows users to control their device by hovering their finger over it. It is similar to how your cursor works on your desktop. When you hover over content it is highlighted, then you can make a selection by tapping. This will give users finer control and reduce the incidence of tapping on wrong buttons or links when using a supported app.
But how exactly are they able to accomplish this? The explanation may be a bit confusing, but let’s give it a try. Current smartphones use capacitive touchscreens. Manufacturers can use two types of sensors for such – mutual and self capacitance. The former allows multi-touch, while self capacitance sensors do not.
Sony uses both sensors simultaneously to create this hovering effect. Mutual capacitance is used for regular touch actions, and self capacitive sensors are activated when the Floating Touch feature is in use. This is what creates the “shadowing” effect (or highlighting).
The self capacitive sensors are set up to be extra sensitive, being able to detect a user’s finger up to 20 mm above the screen. When hovering one’s finger, the screen is not able to detect multiple fingers. This is not necessarily bad, as seeing multiple hover points on your screen would likely just be confusing.
As expected, this feature is not available for all applications. Developers will have to implement it in order for the customer to make use of it. But for now, you can use the Xperia Sola’s browser with Floating Touch capabilities.
I really want to get excited over this feature, but can’t help feeling like it is just a gimmick. But it seems fun, and it would help in some scenarios – especially for small devices, such as the 3.7-inch Xperia Sola. When using smaller smartphones, one tends to tap on the wrong links more often, due to the lack of screen real estate.
Personally, I am still more excited about SmartTags. Check out the video and source link for more details then let us know what you think of this technology. Do you think you could take advantage of Sony’s Floating Touch features?