Microsoft shows how 3D sensing will work on smartphones

In a concept video demonstrating the use of 3D sensing technology, Microsoft shows how 3D sensing would work on a smartphone. With the rumored Microsoft Mobile, formerly Nokia, McLaren smartphone anticipated to have 3D gesture tech to allow a user to interact with the touchscreen without even touching the display, this technology could appear on this or future Windows Phone models. Check out the YouTube video demo after the break to see this innovative and exciting tech in action.

Microsoft is able to achieve touch-less interaction by using an electric field sensing tech. This allows for 3D finger tracking as well as in-air gestures.

Are you excited about this technology coming to Windows Phone?

Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails. 

114 Comments
  • Microsoft Mobile? Is that really the new name?
  • It's been the new name, Microsoft Mobile Oy.
  • It changed to just "Microsoft Mobile" on the store not long ago. (At least, here in the US.)
  • In Europe the Oy was removed too. It made no sense to have the Ltd. in the name of the developer, honestly. It's bad enough that MM is taking credit from something they didn't do.
  • Um... Didn't Microsoft Research come up with this? Besides, "they" did come up with it since this work was purchased. If you say that, then Apple shouldn't get any credit for Siri, since they bought Siri. Is this Nokia obsession the only thing you post about?
  • I was talking about the rebranding of the publisher of the Nokia apps in the store.
  • problem is, they can't keep using "Nokia" in their publisher name once they bought that part of them out...
  • Apple didn't buy DARPA, but MS did buy Nokia, thus taking in their inventory and inventors as well
  • No, it did not....
  • This will be like cursors on a desktop!!! Hovering will prevail
  • Kinda, if you're using a touch surface. If you're using a computer mouse, the cursor will not be steady because your hand naturally shakes, and there's no clicking.
  • in India Oy was removed too
  • i've seen this video way before the nokia buyout.
  • Microsoft Mobile is the name of the company that was created, separate from Microsoft itself, to receive the ex-Nokia employees that left Nokia when the sale of the D&S division closed.
  • So that means that "they" did do it ultimately?
  • Wait, what?
  • DJCBS. STAHP.
  • Your MS hate is really old. Time for you to grow up along with your old age hate.
  • This. Get over it and do something with your life.
  • MS could merge the RT and WP into Microsoft Mobile OS which supports 4" - 8" devices (Phone, Phablet and Tablet).
  • Cool technology. I wonder how dangerous it is to have near your head though.
  • No.
  • no u
  • That actually looks useful and not gimmicky. Looking forward to seeing it in a phone.
  • That's my feelings. I wasn't sold on the tech until I saw this video.
  • Same here, now that I got an idea how the technology works. Man, there is a lot they will be able to do with this if they just take advantage of it to its fullest within the software. Gonna be interesting to see what they come up with.
  • I look forward to not swiping my fingers across glass. I hate that feeling.
  • Less cleaning of screens too, oh joy.
  • Good for laptops for people who don't want to smudge the screen
  • rad!
  • Greaaat :)
  • That's really really interesting. McLaren, You got my complete undivided attention ! ... Well, 95% of it, gotta save some for the upcoming HTC :p. "Look Mom, I'M ON TV !!!" my 8X.
  • Great The best
  • Don't get me wrong, I do know that this is not the same thing, but...  Galaxy S4 and already has a feature like this. :S
  • Not the same... No.
  • The S4 used a proximity censor and the front facing camera for gesture and it was horrible. Even my sister turned gesture off on her's because it was unusable.With what Microsoft is doing here is night and day compared to S4.
  • And it worked so well that they implemented it in the S5, oh wait...
  • It just got hot in here
  • Good .microsoft mobile
  • Nokia The best
  • This is Microsoft Research, which had nothing to do with the Nokia prior to the acquisition.
  • Speaking of MS Research, they ARE the best. Love them! Many of the best apps are from them. They were also the team that created fresh paint, before it was an offical product. <3
  • Face Swap rocks!
  • Good to see it
  • Next step: Holograms!
  • Could you imagine a screenless phone!? Yes please!
  • This video has already been shown before.. But, it is cool.. I would use it, and WP can't have too many exclusive technical features.. Bring it on, along with whatever else they can come up with.
  • Hadukkkkeeeenn
  • This is modern sorcery. i cannot believe the glass is capable of sensing. I thought we'd have to use camera to sense our fingers.  imagine using swype with this.  no more glass swyping.
  • This is actually really old tech. I had an "input device" on my old Apple II computer back in the late 80s that looked like a mouse pad, that could sense how high above it your hand was using an EM field (up to like as much as 6-7 inches away). I forget what it was called, but a few games supported it along with joystick to give you three dimensions of control. It worked fine, but was hard as heck to get used to controlling games like that, so it never caught on. Hopefully it works better on the phone. The trick will be in getting enough resolution to accurately sense the difference in height of individual fingers versus your whole hand, so it doesn't just average it all into one blob at a single height value.
  • wow awesome! can't wait to try this in Nov.
  • S4? Really? I dont thnk so. I tried s4 but dont have full 3d gestures
  • Let's hope they can shrink that board down a touch.
  • That's awesome! Go MSFT Research, and maybe a fingerprint-less future ;)
  • I likes !
  • Looks promising
  • That definitely won't fit into your pocket.
  • Lmao too funny! XD
  • Boom! Bye bye chicken wing sauce filled screen.
  • lol, oh joy.
  • Looks amazing. I'm thinking that it will be like Kinect.  Very useful when my phone is on it's dock so that I can gesture for particular functions.  Promising.
  • kinect like tech would use the front camera. I do not think a capacitance based sensor would work from a distance. This will be close range.
  • No more sticky barbecue fingers on my screen!
  • I prefer this name to Windows Phone. Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • Correct me if I'm wrong...wasn't this shown last month on this site?
  • It was, but now it's relevent 
  • I'm more exited about what will be coming from the pureview camera team, If the Lumia 1020 successor has this tech on the screen plus an improved camera they can take my money :)
  • McLaren is indeed the successor of L1020. http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/2349002/nokia-lumia-1020-sequel-to-be-first-windows-phone-with-kinect-sensors L930 is their regular flagship high-end device while McLoren will be the upgraded L1020 as an exquisite high-end device. 
  • I forgot to mention that one of the Microsoft Store reps told me that he had heard a rumour that Lumia 930 could come to AT&T within 2 or 3 months.  If it indeed happens, that would make good sense to have L930 to replace L920 as their high-end flagship.  And the McLaren would be their L1020 replacement (L1030?).  It would be their exquisite high-end device to demo their latest technologies.  L1030 would be their answer to  compete head-on with LG G3 and iPhone 6.
  • AT&T has the 1520 + 1020 and the 930 is the global version of the Lumia Icon. If it does come to AT&T, Verizon won't be too happy.
  • Yes, this is innovation, this is Microsoft at work on all fronts.
    I am looking forward to experiencing this real world.
    Exciting times.
  • Microsoft Research does some impressive work. Keys hope the marketing people can communicate it well enough to be noticed by the masses. Let's get this Lumia advertised events and get one in my pocket! Microsoft & Nokia are great, teamed up.
  • ...so it's basically the NES Power Glove without the glove?
  • I believed I've read this few months ago.
  • Oowee this is so dope. The McLaren might be a two plus year phone for me. I can't wait to upgrade. T-Mobile, Microsoft let's do this!
  • Reminds me LeapMotion..!! But way cool..!!
  • Is it me or would my hand/fingers be in the way of the screen? Cool though. Browsing maps and photo editing would be a breeze!
  • Very nice. Someone mentioned Microsoft paint. That is a nice app too, although it makes the image a little too painty, be nice to adjust how painty, anyway. Something to look forward to. Always wiping finger prints off of the screen. Sometimes when I wipe it, the 1520's big screen, looks like the display is on a mescaline trip.
  • I totally agree with you on Fresh Paint, it makes the images way to "painty".
    One would think there would be a way to adjust but no way to do such a thing.
    That one thing renders that app useless for me.
  • Way too "painty" is that even a word? :p. Besides the app is called "Fresh Paint" for a reason lol.
  • Hmm
  • I'm sure people at Samsung are watching this video and cutting them selves for not coming up with something like this lol...btw AWESOME concept
  • Good for applications where u need to see in front of your finger but just release the 930 already.... 3d meh
  • Looks very interesting to me.
  • Just Wondering, Microsoft Research is always doing a research while Google always buy a research? am i right?
  • i hope microsoft releases this before samesung starts cloning it with gimmicky useless s-software and ends putting a bad image on this tech
  • It's cool... but, why not touch the screen? I've tried thinking about uses for this and I can't really find any... And on top of that, you're going to be "that guy" everyone stares at waving his hands over his screen like he's casting a spell on it to follow his command, when all you have to do is just touch the screen...
  • Hover effect adds an additional layer of interaction. Imagine hovering over a tile and having it pop into "sub-tiles" for you to choose from, or for those stupid hover-enabled menus on many modern websites. Those are just off the top of my head.
  • Adds depth.
  • Think of it this way, this is the first step at interacting with holograms
  • Interacting with a screen just like in minority report just came one more step closer to reality :P.
  • At this point Microsoft will give try this feature in their applications in other platforms before doing it in Windows Phone...
  • Usually yeah, but this is part of the OS not an app, so we should get it first :D
  • OK!, now we are sure that the whole 3d gestures thingy is not a gimmick !. Patiently waiting for the first phone with this technology. Looks like it's gonna be huge.
  • This MUCH better than the Samesung's trick with the front camera.
  • WOW!!!!!! i can't wait for the McLaren! i'll be the first to stand out queing for that phone outside d gates of ATT(?)
  • Thats that
  • Wow. I'm very impressed. Can't wait for McLaren!
  • Leap Motion on WP?
  • Microsoft just want to make his 2019 concept vid on youtube come true
  • Hell yeah!!
  • Any one notice that it was an HTC phone in the video? Not an 8x either. Maybe the new model being rumored
  • It should take mobile gaming experience to a whole different level. Mac
  • Don't look now, but if Microsoft somehow was able to project a 3d image 2-3 inches in front of the screen and the user could interact with it using this technology, I would say that  Tony Stark meets Minority Report is here.
  • i deffinitely want that in my new windows phone.
  • I don't see any use of all these things with the poor battery densities on phones these days. Manufacturers should focus on tripling/quadruppling the mAh densities of batteries before loading the phones with such features, which most people would turn off anyways, to preserve their batteries.
  • Agreed however if WP is going to gain any traction further to obtain critical mass we need a device that everyone will want and talk about. Also with battery innovation being in the dark ages (given the speed tech advances these days) everyone is going for energy efficient route which is better in the long run imo.
  • Make the UI better than making this useless stuff. -1 Microsoft.
  • Make which UI better? WP is leaps and bounds ahead from static icons. The only possible comparative option is to have widgets, which is the road most android OEMs have gone down.
  • Notification panel is not par even with IOS forget android apart from that many missing features and even lag sometimes. This must be the utmost importance to make UI even smoother and constant improvement to stay on par if not ahead of the competition.
  • Amazing I love this tech...thank to Microsoft Research!
  • Is this similar to the technology we will see next week when Amazon reveals its new phone? I've watched Amazon's promo video and the people in it appear to responding to the 3-D sensors in the new device.
  • Is that the new htc windows phone,??!!!! Looks bigger than 8x Posted via Windows Phone Central App
  • What impressed me the most is how far away his hand was in the last clip from the screen. I know Samsung has its Air Gestures, but does it sense the user's hand from such a distance?? People above talking about this and talking about that but truth be told this 3D touch would go hand in hand with glance. If I could wave my hand over my screen to see the time and any notifications, what about not touching the screen to wake the phone? what about unlocking it with 3d touch gestures with the new lock screen interactions? Activating Cortana without touching the phone etc passive voice or 3d touch!!! What most of you need to do is to STOP rushing MS to release WP8.1  and allow them to add,add and add some more so that when it's finally fully released that the users and the developers who use it by extension those damn piss poor sales clerks will now actually have a reason to search for a WP8.1 device and show those who walk through their store doors. Why hasn't anyone up 'til now ever said that MS must be truly a top company to release an OS update for current devices and future devices that hardware from 2 yrs ago will run those devices with "old tech" on par with devices being released in 2013/2014. TBH how would an IPhone 5/GS4,5/HTC M7,8 user feel sitting next to a person using a Lumia 520 or Lumia 920 or Lumia 1020 not touching their phone to open apps, make calls, use cortana, send txts etc with hardware costing less than half of what they spent on their next gen devices!!! Can't wait MS, just bring it!!!