The Sensus Case is at CES 2013, and it brings touch controls to the iPhone that go way beyond the screen. Touch-sensitive panels on the back (which can detect 10 points of input at once) and sides of the case give it additional capabilities for gaming and apps, akin to what Sony has down with the back panel of the PlayStation Vita mobile console.
The Sensus is made by Minnesota based hardware company Canopy, which wanted to bring something genuinely new to the world of iPhone apps. In hands-on testing, the prototype was amazingly responsive and accurate – and immediately, you get the sense of how the thing can work with not only games, but also with any apps that require menus. The side sliders can act as scrolling mechanisms for quickly paging through options and menus, making it much easier to navigate a number of settings on the fly.
For gaming, the Sensus’ back panel takes away the pain of having your fingers block a big section of the screen. Plus, it can be used to do different things than the front panel. Of course, to use either, you need an app or game that has it integrated via an API. But Canopy reps said that it’s easy for developers to get on board, and in fact it takes only minutes to get it up and running in the most basic way possible.
The Sensus Case is planned for release summer 2013, and should retail for under $100. The Canopy rep said that the idea is to make sure it’s available for less than a premium case without the touch sensitive features. Another thing the company is really excited about is the potential for what it can do to enable better app controls for users with visual impairments. There’s no question the Sensus is impressive, but what developers ultimately do with it will be what proves its long-term worth.