London, October 28 : Microsoft researchers have developed a system called SideSight that can allow a mobile phone user to control a handset placed on a table by wiggling his/her fingers in the space around it.
The technology was unveiled last week at the User Interface in Software and Technology symposium in Monterey, California.
Alex Butler, a researcher from the Sensors and Devices Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge in the UK, has revealed that the system derives its exceptional ability from infrared sensors that can pick up the movement of fingers up to 10 centimetres away.
"The big advantage of our prototype is the finger does not block any of the screen space," New Scientist magazine quoted Butler as saying.
While making a demonstration about the new system, Butler used his index finger as a mouse and controlled the on-screen cursor of a modified HTC Touch cellphone by tracing a path along the table to the right of the phone.
A tap from his left index finger registered as a mouse click.
The researcher said that the settings could be modified so that the right hand could use a stylus to interact directly with the screen, while the left finger would scroll the text up and down.
By coordinating fingers on either side, the user can drag, rotate and change the size of images on the display.
The team expects to boost the speed and smoothness of the system in later versions, and to make it less power hungry to minimise the effect of the sensors on battery life.