A team from the University of Michigan has developed a software alternative to Apple’s Force Touch technology found on the iPhone 6S. The main idea behind the ForcePhone software is adding Force Touch capabilities on technically any mobile device, as long as it comes with a microphone and speaker.

Apple’s Force Touch technology enables trackpads and touchscreens to distinguish between different levels of force applied on their surfaces. Force Touch is a pressure sensitive multi-touch technology that was unveiled back in 2014 and is included on the iPhone 6S under the 3D Touch name.

However, this means that Apple had to implement special sensors inside the phone so that the Force Touch technology could work. The iPhone 6S has a force-sensitive screen but the iPhone SE doesn’t.

Developed at the University of Michigan, ForcePhone is a software solution that allows users to apply a certain pressure on the screen to unlock the menu in apps or other features. It doesn’t require devices to come with a special screen or built-in sensors, since the technology is simply based on the phone’s microphone and speakers.

ForcePhone could work on any mobile device

ForcePhone causes the phone to continuously emit an 18kHz buzz, which is too high a frequency for the human ear to detect. The pitch changes when the user presses their finger against the screen and the microphone will be able to detect changes in the buzz and translate them to commands for the software.

The technology allows users to dial their phones or navigate through various menus, without having to slide their fingers on the display, but merely to squeeze the screen in different patterns. The neat thing about ForcePhone is that it could virtually work on any mobile device that has a microphone and speaker, which most smartphones do.

The team from Michigan University mentioned that the software isn’t available for public consumption, but that the inventors will showcase it during the MobiSys 2016 event held in Singapore next month.

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