One of the features of the PlayStation Vita that has drawn a lot of attention is the rear touch panel. It allows users to input various touch commands without actually smudging up their screens with dirty fingers. The new iPhone case from Canopy called the Sensus adds the same feature to iPhones. With it, users can play their games all they want without getting ugly fingerprints and smudges all over their screens.
Not only is the back of the case touch-sensitive, but the top edge reads touch as well. This, along with the actual touchscreen, creates three potential input methods for iPhone users.
The Sensus has dual microprocessors that are able to handle all the gestures and touch inputs from the user. Because the only job of both processors is to interpret input from the user, the creators actually claim that the case is more sensitive than Apple's built-in touchscreen. That is certainly a lofty claim, as Apple's touchscreen is one of the best in the industry. In theory, this would actually leave more processing power for high-end games and applications, as none of the processing power would be dedicated to touch inputs.
The case plugs into the iPhone's dock connector and uses it to communicate inputs to the device. This is also how the device receives its power, as it does not have a battery of its own. This could prove to be a good or a bad thing. It keeps the device thin because of the lack of a bulky battery, but it also could suck down power from the phone.
Canopy cites some interesting ways the Sensus can be used in the real world. First, and most obvious, it could benefit gaming. Canopy claims that it will improve existing games as well as allowing developers to make entirely new gaming experiences with the extra control options it affords.
Another interesting use for this case is reading. With it, users could scroll through a document using the touch panel on the back and not block the screen with their fingers. This would create a faster reading environment, where users don't need to break their stride to scroll.
It appears as though the case does require developers to support it, so that means it could face the same problem that so many other iOS controllers have faced, and that is lack of developer support. Canopy claims to have plenty of developers on board, but that remains to be seen.
As you would expect, the Sensus protects your phone from drops and falls, which is pretty standard of iPhone cases. In fact, for most cases, protection from impact is all they do. Sensus offers that, plus an entirly new method for controlling your device. The case is made with polycarbonate that Canopy claims "exceeds industry standards for drop protection." It adds a little size to the device, but it doesn't look big enough to make the device fit uncomfortably in a user's pocket.
The case is launching the first quarter of 2013 for US$59. It will be launching for iPhone 4/4S at first, with an iPhone 5 and iPod touch 5th generation version coming out at some point later in the year. Users can preorder the iPhone 4/4S model from the Sensus website.