New software brings 3D Touch to any smartphone

New software brings iPhone’s 3D Touch to any smartphone


ForcePhone makes Androids pressure-sensitive.
ForcePhone makes Androids pressure-sensitive.
Photo: University of Michigan

You don’t need a pressure-sensitive display or fancy sensors to take advantage of the 3D Touch features on the iPhone 6s. Engineers at the University of Michigan have developed a way to bring 3D Touch to any smartphone using incredibly clever software.

Pressure-sensitive displays haven’t really taken off like many of us (including me) thought they would. I’m a huge fan of 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s, and I didn’t think it would take long for the likes of Samsung to copy it. But very few are showing an interest.

That could be because pressure-sensitive displays aren’t easy to build. Apple says it took years to perfect the 3D Touch display, and that engineering the hardware behind it is incredibly difficult. That’s probably why it’s yet to make its way to the iPad.

It may also be one of the reasons why Apple’s rivals aren’t scrambling to copy 3D Touch, but thanks to some clever software, special hardware may not be necessary.

ForcePhone, a technology developed by the University of Michigan, can allow any smartphone to detect pressure applied to its display, and even to its sides. It does this by using the built-in microphone and speaker in exciting new ways.

ForcePhone can be installed on any smartphone, according to its creators, and a demo version will be available in June. It will likely be need to baked into an operating system to provide the same features 3D Touch does on iPhone, but it will be interesting to see where this goes.

Here’s to hoping ForcePhone can bring 3D Touch capabilities to many more devices. I want it on my Android already!