A new patent has been made public by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent, titled "Touchless input", was created in 2016 and is a continuation of a previous patent that was filed in 2012 (via Digital Trends).
It is believed that the 2012 patent was part of Microsoft's plans to implement "3D Touch"-like technology into its smartphones, but that fruit never blossomed. This new patent could show that Microsoft continued to work on the technology for a while longer.
The idea behind the patent is to allow interaction with a touchscreen without having to actually touch it. This works by using depth camera that generates a series of images to model a human subject, particularly the hands and fingers. The technology would be able to report on position, angle, and movement.
Some of the gestures that would be compatible include:
as well as more.
As it is a patent, it could just be Microsoft looking into the technology, and it may turn into nothing, especially as the original idea was to include it in its smartphones.