Monday, January 07, 2013

The Canopy Sensus case makes your iDevice even more touch sensitive

How much more touch-sensitive can you make an iPhone? At least side- and back-sensitive says the company Canopy, which introduced a new touch-sensitive iDevice case ahead of CES on Sunday.
The Sensus looks like any old case that protects the sides and back of your iPhone (or other iDevice). But while Canopy says it is indeed a protective case, with the industrial design exceeding marketplace protection standards, it has something else: an app for that, with that being more touch points.

Seriously, Canopy only demoed a few apps that can work with the case, as of now. With such an app, though, you can touch and swipe on the back or right side of the case to interact with games and other apps.

The possibilities are endless, and some come to mind immediately. For example, what's the biggest problem with swiping through something that's data intensive on your iPhone? Right, your fingers are in the way. So, a Sensus-aware app could allow you to slide your finger down the side of your iPhone to scroll instead.

A major proponent of Sensus might be games, where a developer could add more controls for the back or side of your iPhone. One demo that Canopy showed off allows blind users to respond to audio texts using a six-fingertip touch interface by holding the iPhone in landscape mode and using the side and back surfaces to write in braille.

Canopy says the Sensus will become available this summer. It will eventually be available for the iPhone 5, iPhone 4 / 4S, iPad touch (fifth generation), the retina iPad and the iPad mini. The company does not specify which retina iPad, which implies the Sensus will work with either the iPad 3 or iPad 4.

Notably, for cases (no pun intended) like the spreadsheet above, the Sensus case would be less useful for iPads, where obscuring the screen with your finger is much less of an issue.

Potential customers can sign up at Canopy's website for information on when the Sensus will be available for their device. While the company hasn't settled on a price yet, it has already made assurances on its site that it will sell the iPhone version for between $59 and $99. It's unclear how much the other versions will cost.

However, the company will face -- in a different manner -- the same problem that HD-DVD faced before it lost the optical disc battle: the need for content. Without sufficient apps using their APIs, who will buy the case? Similarly, without a sufficient user base carrying the Sensus, what app developer will write for Sensus?

It's the classic chicken and egg problem, and time will tell if it can be resolved in Sensus' favor.

A slideshow of Sensus images is available here.

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