Video: The No-Look Touchscreen Dial from Google

Video: The No-Look Touchscreen Dial from Google


While I, by no means, encourage you to send any text messages or participate in any voice calls while driving, I can certainly appreciate the ability to use my phone without having to look at it. That’s part of the reason why I much prefer physical keypads, because I can base my relative location on touch rather than sight. I can feel my way around the keyboard to know where I am.

And that’s the inherent problem with touchscreens. Without actually looking at the display, you really have no idea where you are. Well, a couple of Google engineers have overcome this conundrum. The solution is partly targeted at blind users, but I can totally see its application with the general population as well.

If you check out the video below, you’ll find an actual demo of the technology starting at around the two-minute mark. In essence, the user does not need to hit pre-defined virtual buttons on the screen to dial. Instead, wherever the user touches first becomes the “5” on a standard numeric keypad.

From here, the user can swipe in the appropriate direction to get the other numbers. Swipe up to get 2, down-right to get 9, left to 4, and so on. Differentiating between 8 and 0 is done by the length of the stroke (short down for 8, long down for 0), though that could result in a couple of errors.

This is pretty interesting and it’s actually quite surprising that no one came up with it sooner.