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Next Year To See Wider Adoption of Pressure Sensitive Displays

December 17, 2015 - Written By Diego Macias

Pressure sensitive displays were popularized by the Apple Watch with its Force Touch feature, allowing the user to interact with certain elements on the screen, depending on how much pressure is being applied. Apple used this kind of technology in the trackpad of one of their newest laptops, so everyone expected this technology to be part of their next iPhone. Huawei was actually the first company to integrate a pressure sensitive display in a smartphone with the Mate S, of course, a little later the new iPhone was introduced and this technology was called 3D Touch. Some native apps on both phones support this technology, providing more options or new ways to interact with them, but overall, that technology has not been broadly adopted yet.

There have been rumors that more smartphones could integrate this kind of technology, including the Samsung Galaxy S7. According to a recent report from IHS, there will be much more force sensing module shipments next year. These components cost quite a lot right now, so only high-end or mid-range devices are likely to include them. The production of this kind of screen is expected to grow by up to 317%, reaching 416 million units, which means that almost one-quarter of all new smartphones will have this kind of technology included.

Calvin Hsieh, director of touch and user interface research for HIS mentioned that touch controller IC makers are looking for ways to improve touch interfaces in smartphones, so they are expecting the production of in-cell and on-cell touch displays. This kind of panels will make for 40% of the shipped touch panels in 2015 and it will rise up to 50% through 2018. Let’s remember that Synaptics released a technology called ClearForce, which enables displays to recognize different levels of pressure, so it’s possible that some manufacturers will use this in their smartphones. Either way, if pressure sensitive displays become more popular, it would make developers think of new ways to use this technology in their apps, which might end up benefiting consumers. BlackBerry on the other hand, gave new interactions to some apps with their pop-up widgets, and this doesn’t require new hardware, so perhaps developers should be thinking of software-based solutions to bring some of the new functionality to older devices or those that don’t end up with one of these newer screens.