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Cell Phones Make a Touch Surface Smarter

By Technology Review

October 6, 2010

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Tabletop touch screens such as Microsoft's Surface are designed for sharing and collaboration, but it's difficult for them to tell one person from another. Researchers in the U.K. have developed a new way to identify different users: via mobile phones.

The prototype system, called PhoneTouch, lets users manipulate onscreen objects, such as photos, or select buttons, by touching any part of their phone to the screen. This also makes it possible to personalize interactions, says Hans Gellersen, a professor of interactive systems at the University of Lancaster, who developed the system with his student Dominik Schmidt.

PhoneTouch also makes it possible to transfer files between the phone and the surface. "Surfaces in general are good for working together in parallel," says Gellersen. "But when people work together they also want to bring information into the group."

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