FingerIO Uses Sonar To Control Smartphones & Smartwatches


While smartphones used to be simply devices for making calls, their functionality has grown enormously over the years. Along with their abilities to be controlled. As smartphones have evolved, so has the ways in which a user can interact with them, from touchscreens, to swiping and other gestures, to fingerprint sensors and even eye scanning and ear identification. Now, University of Washington students are toying with what could possible be the next way in which users will interact with smartphones and smartwatches, Sonar technology.

FingerIO, as it has been dubbed, uses sonar waves to allow smartphone and smartwatch owners to engage with their devices. FingerIO uses the device's speakers to send out a high-frequency sound wave, the smartwatch or smartphone then uses the device's microphone to measure the reflections and echoes produced by the outgoing sound wave. These reflections can then be interpreted by the device and cause an action to be achieved. In short, this means you could be making a gesture on a tabletop or any other surface or even in the air and the device is able to interpret those gestures and act accordingly.


As the technology is based on smartphone speakers and microphones, one of the immediate and obvious benefits is that this sort of technology does not need any additional hardware or sensors to be included. Which means that it is also possible that if the technology becomes more widely rolled out, it is one which will likely be able to be backdated to include a number of older smartphones and smartwatches that predate the technology. In fact, the researchers found that during testing, results were accurate to an 8 mm margin of error. Of course, this is still in its infancy and results have only been replicated on a very small scale and the researchers do point out a number of issues which would have to be overcome before FingerIO could be more widely used. However, for those interested in knowing more, you can check out the video below for a brief demonstration of how the technology works or head through the source link below to read a recently published paper on FingerIO by the University of Washington.

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John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]

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