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Synaptics Fuse: Multi-input concept phone gets a grip

Synaptics has unveiled the Fuse, a concept phone showcasing the interfaces of the future. From a 3D touchscreen to squeezy bits, we take a look at the future of feeling up your phone

If you thought tilting and swiping your iPhone was the future, just take a look at the Synaptics Fuse. It's a concept phone that points to how we'll be fingering, tilting and even squeezing our phones in 2010 and beyond. We're lighting the fuse on this innovative concept and standing well back.

Touchscreen and trackpad manufacturer Synaptics has headed up a coalition of interface experts to produce what it calls a 'next-gen mobile phone concept'. It packs a 94mm (3.7-inch) WVGA AMOLED touchscreen with a cool interface, rolling icons past the screen like they're on the surface of a 3D ball.

The Fuse is an international collaboration between US companies Synaptics, Texas Instruments and Immersion, the UK's TheAlloy, and The Astonishing Tribe (which abbreviates itself, hilariously, as TAT) from Sweden. While it's unlikely the Fuse will see production, the assembled manufacturers are using it to showcase their various technologies. TAT created the Fuse's 3D interactive menu while calculator legends Texas provide the OMAP 3630 processor. TheAlloy, based in Surrey, oversaw the product design.

The team has chucked in every interface going: two-finger multi-touch capacitive screen, three-axis accelerometer for tilting, squeezy grippy bits and proximity sensing. All it lacks are boring old buttons -- remember them?

The touch-sensitive side panels include grip sensors so you can squeeze the phone to reset or change views. The sides are capacitive too, acting as virtual scroll wheels for panning and scrolling with a finger or thumb.


Even weirder, the back of the Fuse, pictured above, also includes a touchpad. The idea of these various interfaces is to allow you to control the phone with one hand, and even without looking. Haptic feedback is designed to give you an idea of where you are in the interface without glancing down, because who has time to look at their phone these days? It's the 21st century, people!


How easy it is to use these different interfaces remains to be seen. The Synaptics Fuse concept phone will be at CES in January, and waddayaknow -- so will Crave! We'll give the handset a squeeze and see if we can get to grips with the technology.