A new video posted by Microsoft Research shows some 3D touch technology for smartphones that is similar to what was planned for the company's canceled Project McLaren Windows Phone.
Microsoft quietly cancelled Project McLaren in 2014, several months before its planned launch. It included a feature that would let owners interact with items on the phone's display without physically touching it. In the new Microsoft Research video on YouTube, it shows demos of similar features that are tied in with a paper called "Pre-Touch Sensing for Mobile Interaction."
New research uses a mobile phone's ability to sense how you are gripping the device, as well as when and where the fingers are approaching it, to adapt interfaces on the fly.
This Microsoft Research project doesn't have anything to do with Project McLaren, which according to our sources was in development separately at Nokia before Microsoft acquired them in the spring of 2014. Had Nokia chosen the Microsoft Research tech instead the future may have looked different for McLaren as ultimately the tech used was its downfall according to our sources.
Also keep in mind that Microsoft Research works on many different technology projects that ultimately never get released, or at best get folded into other projects like Kinect. An example of this is the above video from 2007, showing a similar "no hands" sensor demo with a modified Casio PDA running Windows CE. Nine years later, we only see a few bits of that technology in today's smartphones.