The New York Times describes the PocketTouch system – work carried out at Microsoft Research by UW CSE Ph.D. alum Scott Saponas and collaborators. The article quotes UW CSE Ph.D. alum Jeff Bigham, now on the computer science faculty at the University of Rochester, and UW CSE Ph.D. alum Krzysztof Gajos, now on the computer science faculty at Harvard.
“Yes, there are still a few inhibiting social settings where people must forgo that primal urge to pull out a cellphone and send a quick text message or two.
“But those who can’t bear such timeouts may soon have a way to keep communicating.
“Researchers have created a prototype for a touch screen that can be used to send messages while it’s concealed in a jacket or pants pocket. The stealthy screen works when it is touched through the fabric, whether it is silk, cotton or even thick fleece.
“In classes or meetings of the future, with your hands tucked beneath the conference table or desk, you may rest a fingertip discreetly on the pocket that holds the touch screen and handle a call by tracing a message like ‘Running late. In a mtg.’ on the fabric above the hidden screen …
“So while you’re writing on your pocket, you can maintain polite eye contact with the group, no longer betrayed by those telltale downward gazes necessary to text with a standard screen.”
Read more here.