Introducing the Touchy-Feely Phone of the Future

touch feely phone futureCell phones, it would seem, are about to get a lot more sensual — and Microsoft’s the one making it happen.

The company that brought us Windows is now working on a new kind of mobile device “interaction,” so to speak. Microsoft is presenting research at a technology conference this week that proposes phones with options beyond basic vibrating to get your attention. Some of the specifics include phones that “move a small ball or nub back and forth to simulate a rubbing motion,” and phones that “simulate tapping” as related to finger.

Wow…what? But hang on. Maybe we’re misreading the intentions here. Let’s see how Microsoft’s scientists describe it.

“The primary motivation that inspired rubbing and tapping is to allow devices to extend the tactile vocabulary of devices.”

Huh. Well, I’m still willing to give this the benefit of the doubt. Maybe we just need to understand the specifics of the technology to get over what must be a misperceived perversion.

The feelings occur by using the coil on a 3.5-inch hard drive. For “rubbing,” a long arm is mounted to it to let it achieve a 30 degree angle. For “tapping,” a special “hammer” device is mounted onto the hard drive’s head to create the sensation. Researchers are working on increasing the amount and consistency of pressure to make the techniques feel more natural.

All right, case closed. There’s no way this thing was envisioned with a purely platonic state-of-mind. Who knew Microsoft had it in ’em?

One thing’s for sure: I’m never going to be able to look at my Windows Mobile phone the same way again.