Latest interface for “intuitive” device connections

Rekimoto et al. received the Prize of the Asahi Shimbun Company for National Commendation for Invention 2018 hosted by Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation.


A big step forward in linking devices

Wireless services, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile networking, are expanding rapidly. At the same time, the environment of home LANs is improving remarkably. Consequently, interface applications are proliferating. Nonetheless, people find it troublesome to handle even the simple job of connecting small equipment. And, they find it cumbersome to make their connections secure. After years of frantic efforts to establish a user-friendly interface technology, Sony CSL’s team in 2001 proposed “FEEL” -- a concept that enables an intuitive connection of devices. Led by Jun Rekimoto, the study included Yuji Ayatsuka, Michimune Kohno, Nobuyuki Matsushita and Haruo Oba, and won cooperation from many Sony Corp. employees.

Physical contact between devices to exchange interface data

The concept of FEEL calls for combining two primary means of communication. One is subject to various restrictions, such as physical proximity and specific instructions. This group includes NFC (near field communication), FeliCa and infrared data communication. The other group involvess non-directional, high-bandwidth technology, and includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and mobile networks. FEEL works by creating a physical contact between devices and then using NFC to exchange information, like this: To link a mobile phone and PC on Bluetooth, the user will simply touch the mobile phone with the PC’s NFC port. By way of the near field communication technology, this will result in an automatic exchange of the information—Bluetooth addresses, security keys, etc.— that is necessary to establish a connection between the two devices. As a result, the near field communication is handed over to Bluetooth communication and the Bluetooth connection is completed. NFC and infrared communication are able to respond to users’ intentions for linking devices. But due to various restrictions, such as those on bandwidth or proximity, these means of communication are less than ideal for keeping devices connected over time. FEEL understands what connections users want and transfers NFC to Wi-Fi, thus easily establishing and sustaining connectivity between devices.

Products armed with FEEL

FEEL was first used in mobile phones in 2009 as the “CROSS YOU” platform to automate wireless connections. In 2012, the “One-Touch” function was added, a feature that allows wireless connectivity between Sony products that touch each other. This enabled the exchange of music and photos. In the following year, a series of advanced technologies were demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Among them was one-touch mirroring, which allows smartphone pictures to be projected on the screen of Bravia, Sony’s liquid-crystal TV, by holding the phone over the TV’s remote control, and also one-touch backup of photos and videos. These one-touch technologies collectively won the 2013 Good Design Award from the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

One-touch connection

  • Project-implementing companies: Sony Corp., Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Sony Mobile Communications
  • Category: A2-3 (interaction designs for personal and home equipment)


This approach is accepted as part of the international standards on NFC handover. It is likely to develop further in the future, finding many more applications.