Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Hardware Hacking

The Joypad That Became A Rotary Controller 157

Posted by timothy
from the chaka-khan dept.
jaromil writes "Speaking of human/computer interface, so simple, so neat, a usb knob to switch among desktops can give us quite some feeling about operating a machine... how about such controls around the monitor?" The knob in this case is switching between different effects possible with EffecTV. This make me wonder what creative uses people are putting Griffin's PowerMate to.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

The Joypad That Became A Rotary Controller

Comments Filter:
  • by ravenspear (756059) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:03PM (#10610725)
    knob...can give us quite some feeling...

    I think I already have one of those.
  • Very bad idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pan T. Hose (707794) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:03PM (#10610728) Homepage Journal
    "how about such controls around the monitor?"

    As any mouse user can tell you, taking your hands off your keyboard is damaging to your productivity.
    • Re:Very bad idea (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Parent has never edited audio or video. Taking your hands off the keyboard is only bad for clerical work. Broaden your horizons d00d.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Parent has never edited audio or video. Taking your hands off the keyboard is only bad for clerical work. Broaden your horizons d00d.

        If you are clerical than taking your hands off the keyboard may be even a sin.
    • Re:Very bad idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flakac (307921) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:32PM (#10610863)
      As any mouse user can tell you, taking your hands off your keyboard is damaging to your productivity.

      My wife is a mouse user, and quite frankly, I don't think I'll ever convice her that the mouse is a productivity killer. While I mysef, having grown up with command line interfaces (MS-DOS 3.1 anyone?) on the PC, I really doubt that Joe User has any sort of shell installed (Cygwin or MinGW MSYS) at all. I may prefer to use command-line tools, but that doesn't mean that all people do. So to answer your point, most mouse users, just like my wife, need the mouse to function. Just because you or I may be able to work more efficiently without one doesn't mean that the vast majority of people could function without one.
      • A lot depends on what you're doing. I don't suppose you control your web browser with just a keyboard?
    • Not such a bad idea (Score:3, Interesting)

      by uberdave (526529)
      If your productivity is text oriented, then yes, taking your hands off of the keyboard is damaging to productivity. If it is graphic oriented, then a mouse, or graphic tablet is better. What if your productivity is music oriented? You're better off with a piano keyboard than a typewriter keyboard. In short, matching the interface to the task will always give you better productivity.

      Having said all that, a horizontal thumbwheel mounted on the edge of the keyboard, underneath the spacebar allowing me to
      • If your productivity is text oriented, then yes, taking your hands off of the keyboard is damaging to productivity. If it is graphic oriented, then a mouse, or graphic tablet is better. What if your productivity is music oriented? You're better off with a piano keyboard than a typewriter keyboard. In short, matching the interface to the task will always give you better productivity.

        I'll agree with that, which is why I prefer keyboards with the little Thinkpad-style pointer nub in the middle of the keyboa

        • Agreed. I hate to use the mouse when typing, but haven't yet quite managed to avoid it entirely. For the next laptop I buy a clitmouse [perl.org] may well be the deciding factor. Unfortunately, I hear that IBM holds a patent on them.
          • Toshiba laptops come with the keyboard nubby pointer (newer ones ship with both a touchpad and the nubby). Not sure when they started using the nubby, but the Toshiba Tecra that I bought back in 2000 had one.

            You can also get IBM Model M clone keyboards with the pointer built in, but it's not quite the same feel. I haven't tried the official IBM version since it's a $250 keyboard (the clone keyboard was $100, useful for a server room).

            Not sure if any other laptop manufs include the nubby pointer or not
            • I bought my Dell D600 just because it has the nubby and touchpad. I would have bought an IBM but I got the Dell with a 3 year warranty for only $850 using my employee discount.
    • "As any mouse user can tell you, taking your hands off your keyboard is damaging to your productivity."

      Doesn't using Lynx all the time get old after a while, though?
    • As any mouse user can tell you, taking your hands off your keyboard is damaging to your productivity.

      Yet people still use a mouse. Why? The "damage" to their productivity in removing their hands from the keyboard is offset by the boost to productivity gained by using a mouse.

      So no, this isn't a "Very bad idea" in the slightest. What's a bad idea is not trying new things.
    • I don't know. Even as an emacs user, I have to admit there are some tasks that are made faster by using a mouse. For example, suppose you have 30 files in a single directory, and you want to categorize them by creating subdirectories.
    • by pavon (30274)
      As any mouse user can tell you, taking your hands off your keyboard is damaging to your productivity.

      And blinding quoting rules out of the text book, without understanding why they are correct is harmfull to interface design.

      This is for use with video effect software! How much typing do you think they will be doing? In fact, it appears that this is a kiosk set-up, and this simple knob replaces the keyboard altogether. This is a much cleaner and intuitive interface for this application than using a fu
      • It's worth pointing out that even in the video effects example given in the article, using the keyboard is far more productive. With the dial you have to click past x other effects just to get to the one you want. A keyboard can be setup to enable the effect you want simple by pressing a single button for each of them.

        So the keyboard may not be as easy to use, but it certainly is more productive as long as you assume the user can figure out which button does which. Given proper visual aid (ie. a little
  • Wow. big news. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Awptimus Prime (695459) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:05PM (#10610739)
    Wow! Knobs are useful? I never would have thought..(/sarcasm)

    I only have 16 knobs attached to my PC via USB/Midi.
    • Re:Wow. big news. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by metlin (258108) * on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:08PM (#10610755) Journal
      Not just that, there has been something similar by Apple - don't remember what it's called.

      And musicians have been using such stuff since time immemorial.

      A sonification lab I used to work at has been using such an off-the shelf knob made by Apple for quite sometime.
      • Yeah. MIDI controllers with many knobs is wonderful in music software. I used to have one of the MiniKORG controllers like the author has in the background of his project images.

        What I'd like to do is figure out how to get one of these puppies [musiciansfriend.com] set up to control various aspects things in Xwindows. Alternate mouse buttons, alt, ctrl keys, launch apps or scripts.. mmmmm.
        • Oh hell yeah.

          The former lead guitarist in my band had something similar, but a lot more sophisticated, by Nakamichi [nakamichi.com]. Those things rock, but are expensive as hell.

          I wouldn't want to use them on X though, there are far geeky music-related things that one can do with them =)
    • 16 knobs. (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I only have 16 knobs attached to my PC via USB/Midi.

      16 knobs and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt... st. peter don't you call me cause I can't go, I owe my soul to the company store.

  • iPod... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eobanb (823187) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:07PM (#10610746) Homepage
    If you think about it: weirdly, the iPod is a rotary controller that became a joypad. The first iPods had the mechanical scroll wheel and then they moved to the touch wheel....but the latest generation also rocks left, right, up and down. I personally love these kind of interfaces. Scroll wheels on mice are similar, as are just plain old dials, but they requre you to lift up your finger/hand repeatedly to scroll far enough in either direction. The iPod doesn't. What if that kind of interface was more widespread?
    • Apple would probably sue you for patent infringement. They have the click wheel patented.
    • Knobs *are* a simpler human interface, but they cost more in every respect. They are mechanically more complicated, they take up more space (usually) and they are more complicated to use in a design (more pins and they go deeper behind the control panel). However, maybe it is time to use more knobs that are really digital and only seem analog (kinda like on a ham handi-talkie. To the user, even a knob with discrete positions seems analog in that each position can be thought of as corresponding to options
    • >Scroll wheels on mice are similar, as are just
      >plain old dials, but they requre you to lift
      >up your finger/hand repeatedly to scroll far
      >enough in either direction.

      IBM actually makes a line of mice that have their TrackPoint microjoystick instead of the scroll wheel. In addition to being able to scroll as much as you like without petting the thing like you have to a scroll wheel, it's also pressure sensitive so you can scroll a lot/fast or a little/slow as you like by just pressing differentl
  • I think Solitare is on channel 4...
  • De-Evolution? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Man in Spandex (775950) <prsn DOT kev AT gmail DOT com> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:09PM (#10610756)
    We went from knobs that were attatched to our televisions to buttons that evolved by having remotes and such.

    So today I look at this and I see, the knob but for computers of today and I ask myself, is this proof that old but simple technology is still useful today even though we evolved and changed the standard from knobs to buttons/touchpads/screens
    • Re:De-Evolution? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I think the switch from knobs to buttons in itself a de-evolution in user interfaces in a few respects.

      I think knobs are great. They give a more linear feel to a control rather than just holding down a button. With a button, you are held captive by how fast the maker wants to allow the setting change. With a knob, a quick twist, or turning as quickly or slowly depending on fine/coarse tuning, is all that is needed.

      Both knobs and buttons have their places though. I suspect buttons are used because they
      • And because I have well over 1000 channels, and would not want a nob that percise. Digitally doing channel management like this allows them to insert or remove channels as arbitrarily as they want rather than having to map to a predefined amount of notches in a dial.
        • Of course you could always have something along the lines of a jog dial or mouse wheel, where the interface is rotary, but not arbitrarily limited in range.

          Ford uses these for volume controls on their radios, and it's the same technology that is used for the scroll wheel and ball rollers in mice.

          You could even have an exponential acceleration, so a slight twist would change by one channel, but a fast twist would change by 50 or something like that...
        • It would be nice if you could program a subset of those 1000 channels onto discrete knob positions. Instead of having a row of 10 radio buttons programmed to your 10 favorite channels, you'd have a knob with 10 programmable positions. It would be analog to the person, but digital to the machine. This is already done, but not in consumer electronics. It's been eons since knobs on radios were really analog, but somehow, probably because of cost and size, knobs aren't popping up on televisions and comput
    • We went from knobs that were attatched to our televisions to buttons that evolved by having remotes and such.

      Part of the reason that buttons on TVs became attractive is because it reduced the overall foot print of the TV. I have one 19 inch TV circa mid 80s that measures 25inches across, and one 27 inch tv that measures 24 inches cross, the key diffrence is the 19 inch has the old style turnknob and the 27 inch has but a handfull of buttons. More picture but smaller footprint, it's a good tradeoff, so
  • Bad idea. (Score:1, Insightful)

    Having another button or a knob on the kayboard might be a good idea, but we're years off since no mainstream operating system supports multiple desktops at this time. Apple's close with Expose, but it's still a far cry from the real thing.
    • ummmm (Score:2, Informative)

      by way2trivial (601132)

      Virtual Desktop Manager from microsoft

      Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy.

      http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/pow ertoys/xppowertoys.mspx

      • OK, it is not free but it is the best one and so small in terms of resources and memory. Home Page [goscreen.info].
      • Manage up to four desktops from the Windows taskbar with this PowerToy.

        It works ok, I guess. But it leaves all your applications in the same taskbar, instead of having an independant taskbar for each desktop. And if you click the taskbar button for an app on another desktop it brings the app to you, instead of switching you to that desktop. It also lacks options for spanning one window across desktops. Scroll wheel on the desktop doesn't switch between them. There's no graphical pager. Definately an imp
        • Re:ummmm (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Definately an improvement over [noun1] , but they still have a ways to go before they have a usable [noun2].

          This one sentence could be said for pretty much anything produced by Microsoft.
        • You can set it so that you have separate taskbars. Not sure where; I don't see it during a quick survey of the options, but it definitely does it on my computer.
    • Having another button or a knob on the kayboard might be a good idea, but we're years off since no mainstream operating system supports multiple desktops at this time.

      Call me old-fashioned but I find pressing Alt-number or Alt-arrow more than adequate.

      • Re:Good idea? (Score:3, Insightful)

        Call me old-fashioned but I find pressing Alt-number or Alt-arrow more than adequate.

        Unless you happen to have a kajillion keyboard shortcuts, like I do in Gimp. Please stop thinking Windows + Word + Excell, or pretend you're so cool because "what's wrong with the old studd?", and realize many people actually use off-keyboard controls quite productively.
        • Get a Mac -- it's got an extra modifier key (the Command or "Apple" key). So instead of a kajillion keyboard shortcuts, you can have 2 kajillion! Map your desktop switching to "shift-ctrl-alt-cmd-[arrow keys]." : D
      • I agree, using a scroll wheel to switch desktops just doesn't sound like the tool is fit for the job. A virtual desktop is not a sort of thing that you have to "dial in". It's not a matter of precision, you're either on desktop 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.. The tactile sensation that knobs offer goes quite well with tuning things that require a matter of precision. Think microscope, slr camera, guitar string. This need for precision is why outboard midi controllers have been around for so long, and why people like
        • This need for precision is why outboard midi controllers have been around for so long, and why people like Roland brought out things like the JP 8000 years ago.

          I've never heard about this JP before, which is rather understandable considering how old it is.

    • Re:Bad idea. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mrchaotica (681592)
      Mac OS can do the real thing [sourceforge.net] too -- and with more eye candy than Windows or Linux!

      So yeah, actually ALL major operating systems can do virtual desktops, just not by default (and Linux doesn't do it by default either, since it defaults to TWM!)
      • No. By 'default', Linux boots a console. And again, by 'default', it allocates 8 virtual terminals you can switch to with alt+numberkeys.

        Once you install X, you're not using the default, unless you meant a distro's default, in which case none of them default to twm.
  • I suppose now that both my keyboard and mouse are wireless this would not be a major problem, but still, it still seems like adding a bit more clutter to my already anarchic desk.

    Also, is it possible to actually use this thing without steadying it with your other hand? I really would not want to stick it to the desk. Wouldn't the whole thing turn when you tried to twiddle the dial?

  • How about we simply add another scroll wheel to the mouse? Does anyone know of any experiments/products like this? Added productivity without needing another couple limbs (although I could sure as hell use another pair)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, I'm using a cheap A4 Tech Mouse wtih two scroll wheels (one clickable). It was a shame the drivers for the side buttons are so crap, so I've reverted to using Microsoft drivers as I find the side buttons more useful than a second scroll wheel. The second scroll wheel does have the advantage of scrolling faster, or with the drivers it defaulty scrolls horizontally. I only got the mouse because it was cheap, IMHO a second scroll wheel isn't that useful.
    • ...without needing another couple limbs (although I could sure as hell use another pair)

      That can be arranged. Just get yourself a set of these [cinescape.com].

    • The extra pair of limbs I want generally are attached to some other features that I happen to like. Since I prefer them attached where they are, I think I will just keep the collection together and have a much better time.
  • by enginuitor (779522) <Greg_CourvilleNO@SPAMGregLabs.com> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:22PM (#10610819) Homepage
    The fact that the author used a USB game pad as the electronic base of his device brings up an issue which increasingly plagues electronics hobbyists... Manufacturers are beginning to see many useful protocols (such as RS232) as obsolete and completely remove support for them from their products. While the average American consumer, who uses arbitrary metrics and units-of-measurement-become-buzzwords (megapixels... gigahertz... etc.) to judge the worth of a device, would not care much about seeing those ugly trapezoidal plugs disappear from the back of their computers, it presents a huge problem for us hobbyists who rely on good-old '232 and similar "old" interfaces for easy communication with a computer. Anyone who's ever written (or tried to write) USB interface code knows that's Hell to work with. Fortunately, though, there are solutions... including handy interface chips [ftdichip.com] which handle all the nasty USB work and provide a simple asynchronous serial interface on the project end. However, I still will never buy a motherboard without RS232!
    • by Solder Fumes (797270) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:42PM (#10610921)
      I've written USB firmware from scratch for the 68HC908JB8 microcontroller...yes, it is tough. But once you get everything working, you don't have to do much to change from one type of device to another. The problem is that there isn't a huge amount of free USB firmware out there for all the various USB microcontrollers. That's because most people, like me, finally got around to writing firmware when it became their job to do so.

      However, USB is powerful and should be adopted by hobbyists. If you really need a serial port, there are many premade serial-to-USB converters and chips.
    • ActiveWireInc.com (Score:3, Informative)

      by MacFury (659201)
      ActiveWireInc.com [activewireinc.com]

      Makes a USB controller card for a very reasonable price. They even make add on boards to easily control motors and such. You should check them out. I talked to the owner of the company and he was very helpful in answering questions about the board, and helping me plan the design of my computer controlled camera mount.

    • But are you really one of those guys who wants 2Billion people to loose 2 irqs just becuase 100.000 dont have to spend 5$ for a interface card?
      If you want Rs232, you can get it without problems. Hell, you can get ever 32 port pci cards.
    • Anyone who's ever written (or tried to write) USB interface code knows that's Hell to work with.

      From personal experience, serial interface code is even usually more of a hell to work with than USB. The personal experience I'm talking about includes about 20 of each of USB and serial interfaced devices, both firmware and drivers.

      You see, USB has some structure to it, control and data channels (called "pipes"). Control channels define a standard format for messages. Both control and data channels suppo
  • I'd like to have a good direct volume control on my PC. The PowerMate is rather pricy at 40 dollars. Is it any good? Would i be receiving value for my money? Is it really solid?
    • by spinlocked (462072) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:37PM (#10610897)
      The PowerMate is rather pricy at 40 dollars. Is it any good?

      It's OK. Nicely machined, sexy looking, works under Linux but certainly not worth $40. I've bought more useful gadgets for a lot less.

      It's one of those things you initially think will be great, but one day, in an idle moment you look at it and think: I haven't touched that device in 6 months. And then you think about selling it on eBay, but never quite get round to it.

    • The Griffin is fine but pretty limited. Turn right, turn left, click right, click left, click, long click. All the click commands tend to stick together so it's mainly useful on only the one axis.

      I suggest using a gamepad and Joystick 2 Mouse 3.

      I'm using a PS2 controller now, which gives me two analog sticks (four axes) and 16 or however many buttons. Moreover Joystick 2 Mouse supports a shift key system, so 15 buttons can be set to have two commands.

      There's essentially nothing in the UI I can't control
  • Check out the Griffin Powermate [griffintechnology.com] ("the coolest volume knob your computer has ever seen")

    I have one, and I must concur - it is pretty damn cool.

    • by tepeka (572431)
      I agree - it's amazing. I bought one for my 76-year-old father, who uses a CRT iMac and has bad enough vision that he can't get a driving licence anymore. It's set up to trigger the Mac's Zoom feature. Twist it to the right, and the screen zooms in on the cursor position, twist it to the left and it zooms back out. Click it once and it magnifies the cursor position four times, click it again and it returns to 1X. It's a great bit of kit. He looked at me like I was mad when I showed it to him first, but n
    • by torpor (458)
      I have two, one on each side of my USB keyboard, and I have to say that once you've used a 2-Powermate setup for audio/video/midi editing, you'll wonder how you'll ever go back to that primitive mouse interface.

      In fact, I rarely use my mouse any more, actually, except when I really need to. Everything I need to do is way more fun from either side of my 'pinball rotary' setup. No more right-hand-only RSI .. well, at least not as a result of any mouse activity, anyway ..
  • by jgalun (8930) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:43PM (#10610925) Homepage
    My monitor goes all the way to 11!

    Er, 12 actually.
  • Very cool hack. I wonder if Griffin would consider starting building keyboards with integrated knobs, alongside or in place of numeric keypads?

    I also wonder if there's any interest in mapping, say, a row of toggles to stuff like this. Literally switch from desktop 01 to 11. This kind of goes to the whole 'antiquing' fad that has folks building mini-itx gramophone players/iceboxes/televisions, fitting bakelite handsets to cellphones, etc..

    Another interesting hack would be to have two knobs and run the p
    • I know in Windows, you can assign the mouse cursor to numpad arrow keys.

      Enable that, and bind the knobs to NUMPADUP and NUMPADDOWN, NUMPADLEFT, NUMPADRIGHT respectively, and you're set.
    • Re:Oh right on! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @06:57PM (#10611011) Journal
      I wonder if Griffin would consider starting building keyboards with integrated knobs, alongside or in place of numeric keypads?

      Y'know what'd be better - Apple putting the (presumably patented, since we haven't seen it on anyone else's hardware) iPod scroll wheel into a keyboard or even on a standalone USB panel. As several have said, it's more usable than anything else because you can scroll long lists without repeatedly removing your finger. Physically grasping and moving a Griffin Powermate involves reconfiguring the way you're moving your hands and they can't be continuously spun as easily as the iPod wheel.

      The Apple mouse continues to live without a scroll wheel though, which is, IMO, a much needed addition (FYI, I was under the opinion that moving from the 5 buttons of my Razer Boomslang to the 1 button Apple mouse would never work, and I've got them both hooked in now - I never use the Razer and the only bit I miss is the scrollwheel. All the other functions can be achieved more quickly with one hand hitting hotkeys on the keyboard as I click). I really miss a useful scrolling tool on my mac, and a nice little touchwheel on the edge of the keyboard would be quick, simple and fluid to use while I'm typing.
      • Re:Oh right on! (Score:4, Informative)

        by igrp (732252) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @07:06PM (#10611040)
        Y'know what'd be better - Apple putting the (presumably patented, since we haven't seen it on anyone else's hardware) iPod scroll wheel into a keyboard or even on a standalone USB panel.

        That's an interesting idea. According to this article [mp3.com], Apple did not invent the iPod scroll wheel though. Apparently it was designed by Synaptics [synaptics.com].

        Apple does, however, have a patent that covers mice with a rotary dial [uspto.gov].

      • Y'know what'd be better - Apple putting the (presumably patented, since we haven't seen it on anyone else's hardware) iPod scroll wheel into a keyboard or even on a standalone USB panel. As several have said, it's more usable than anything else because you can scroll long lists without repeatedly removing your finger. Physically grasping and moving a Griffin Powermate involves reconfiguring the way you're moving your hands and they can't be continuously spun as easily as the iPod wheel.

        For wacom-type tabl

  • That's nice, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jlanthripp (244362) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @07:23PM (#10611075) Journal
    The Contour ShuttlePro [contourdesign.com] is nicer. My stepdad, a retired cinematographer and photographer, is into video editing and uses one on his PC. All the buttons and the wheel itself are programmable and so forth. Definitely worth the ~$100US price tag IMHO, if you're constantly editing video. It should be quite nice for gaming as well, though I haven't tried it for that yet.
    • And if you don't have the cash or a need for all the features of the ShuttlePro, there's always the ShuttleXpress [contourdesign.com]. Fewer buttons, but you still have the jog and shuttle. At half the cost of the Pro, it's not a bad deal if your needs are more modest.
  • Ob Simpsons (Score:2, Funny)

    by igw (679952)
    "please refrain from tasting the knob" -Ralph Wiggum
  • WTF you say, I have an Philips Aurilium sound card, which it seems is both a soundcard and a keyboard (the knob on it sends a Vol+/- keypress to the computer that then alters the volume), A USB keyboard and a keyboard on my laptop. X11 is already not liking this fact (and the whole soundcard seems to stop working when the keyboard in the soundcard doesn't get picked up correctly). Does anyone else have problems like this?

    Going back on topic, is this thing another god damn keyboard! and if so how on earth a
  • Pong (Score:5, Funny)

    by wkitchen (581276) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @08:25PM (#10611417)
    Oh man, that would be perfect for playing Pong.
  • by Thai-Pan (414112) on Saturday October 23, 2004 @09:15PM (#10611660) Journal
    If you think about it, the major innovations in computer interfacing hardware have pretty much been the keyboard, the mouse, and the mouse wheel.. Not too much to it. I can't help but wonder if there's space for more to come along.

    I think the iPod's new touch wheel that also tilts around is pretty snazzy. Imagine if they put one of those suckers on your laptop right next to the regular touch pad. "Turn the wheel" to scroll around, do so while pushing down on the right side to switch applications, press up or down on it to scroll a page at a time... Maybe I'm dreaming again, but I think it's a pretty versatile control system that really isn't used to its full potential.
    • I hate all touchpads and the like (haven't used an iPod, but should be the same), the problem is lack of tactile feedback except for the drag on your finger.
    • That's a strange thing to say, there's never been an end to innovations... anything you can think of has probably already been done... like the trackpoint, glidepoint, split keyboards, zero angle, movement of the function keys, the boomslang type devices, multibutton mice, trackballs, wacom type tablets, pucks, lightpens, yoke/flight controllers, pedals for both games and chording keystrokes, voice command, joysticks, both proportional and touchpads, force-feedback of various sorts, including mice and joys

  • by torpor (458) <jayv.synth@net> on Saturday October 23, 2004 @11:04PM (#10612171) Homepage Journal

    In the field I work in (synthesizers), the perceptive nature of our customers (musicians) when relating to a user interface is indeed a tricky and wonderful force to behold. Rotary knobs, and the general 'feel' of a system as a result of simple interface kinetics, is fairly well-established in this field.

    I've always viewed the standard computer interface (keyboard/mouse) as being curiously unburdened by progress and change; you cannot say the same for the synth business, where there is no one standard for how you ought to use knobs.

    I've got two PowerMates, both on each side of an Apple extended keyboard, they are without doubt among the most precious peripheral I have on my desk. I've also got a couple of faderfox boxes, an LV1 and an LX1, which are also awesome primary/secondary interfaces, as well offering endless rotaries for various nefarious uses..

    The attempt by Microsoft to commodotize their 'peripheral assets' (MS Natural keyboard) while providing pitiful support (beyond HID) for application authors, and the tendency of other interface mfr's to vector off into 'cool but ultimately useless plastic hack' (anyone remember the Cyberman?) is fairly common. Once again, its all about the operating system.

    But you know, if you want to know more about endless uses for rotary knobs, look no further than the audio/synth/pro-media tool markets. Especially of the 80's and 90's .. a veritable wasteland of proprietary hack after propietary hack, all with their own individual utility lifespan, designed to give muso's a haptic kick or two.
  • PVR's are in heavy need of a nice rotary controller. A single large knob that you can modify the volume and time shifting controls with. With a knob you can get a nice feel for how far ahead back or ahead you want to go without flooding the IR.
  • wearable computing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FrenZon (65408) * on Sunday October 24, 2004 @02:07AM (#10612759) Homepage
    Some time ago I used the powermate in a wearable computing project [riot.com.au] using tones and computer-synthesised voice as feedback.
  • This quote was interesting:
    Because the most of USB joypad and the generic driver emits an event when any button is pressed, there is no way to know which channel is set when the application is launched.
    It should be fixable. Otherwise, the main reason for using a knob, a visible way of seeing which option is chosen, dissapears.
  • by Tony.Tang (164961) <slashdot AT sleek DOT hn DOT org> on Sunday October 24, 2004 @04:34AM (#10613087) Homepage Journal
    Phidgets (http://www.phidgets.com/ [phidgets.com]) is something that has recently become extremely cheap and accessible to software guys like me who HATE hardware. Phidgets make it really easy to build physical user interfaces (think nobs, switches, pressure sensors, etc.) without needing to do any hardware stuff yourself.

    They are extremely easy to use, as you can see by these undergrad projects (http://grouplab.cpsc.ucalgary.ca/phidgets/gallery /index.html [ucalgary.ca]).

    Full disclosure: I am a member of the lab from which this stuff was developed.
  • by PontifexPrimus (576159) on Sunday October 24, 2004 @10:52AM (#10613984)
    I have a Logitech Cordless Desktop MX [logitech.com] connected to my linux box, and using Hotkeys [freshmeat.net] I can easily set the volume with the spinning disc in the top center of the keyboard. This is very useful since I often watch movies with large volume ranges and I can very quickly and very precisely adjust the loudness that way. I especially like the fact that the disc doesn't have a fixed "start" and "end" position but rather spins freely, making it similar to the iPod scroll wheel.

The number of computer scientists in a room is inversely proportional to the number of bugs in their code.

Working...