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Mobile phones to get more touchy, report finds

Feb 21, 2007 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Within five years, thirty-eight percent of mobile phones will incorporate “control surfaces” such as touchscreens and touchpanels, according to ARCchart. The wireless research and consulting firm expects control surfaces to increasingly replace buttons and scrollwheels, in part because they replace mechanical parts and… simplify assembly.

(Click for larger view of LG Chocolate)

ARCchart defines “control surface” as “any surface that allows the presence, or position, of a finger or pointing device (e.g. stylus) to be detected.” Touchscreens are the most common type of control surface today, but ARCchart expects capacitance detection technology to be applied increasingly to other parts of the phone, not just the screen.

Matt Lewis, research director, stated, “Eventually, control surfaces will give rise to soft interfaces, where buttons, keypads, keyboards, and various navigation elements are rendered graphically on a touch-sensitive screen to provide interfaces which can change dynamically depending on context and the application.”

ARCchart also predicts that control surfaces will enable new and innovative form-factors. It notes that LG's popular “Chocolate” phone is among the first phones to use control surface technology in a stylish new form-factor.

Additional report findings include:

  • Keypads are found on about 94 percent of handset models worldwide
  • 96 percent of models have some form of 5-way navigation interface
  • Mini-keyboards are found on 6 percent of phones
  • Fingerprint sensors are now present on some 6 million handsets; additionally, some models from LGE, Lenovo, Pantech, Samsung, and Fujitsu exploit these sensors for UI navigation

The report also forecasts growth for other input technologies that can increase customer use of revenue-generating services. Examples include mini-keyboards, haptic (touch) sensors, and fingerprint sensors.

Bill Ray, lead analyst, stated, “Any feature which eases data entry will encourage subscribers to send more text, email, or IM messages; and features which augment navigation and speed access to personal information and applications will encourage subscribers to initiate more voice calls and consume more content services.”

The findings are from a recently published ARCchart report entitled, “Handset Input Interface Methods and Technologies: 2007 – 2011,” available for purchase from the research firm's website.

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