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Input Devices Handhelds Software Hardware

Making Fingers Work With Touch Screens 111

Posted by kdawson
from the seeing-the-spot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A paper was recently published about Shift at the Computer Human Interaction Conference earlier this month. The authors (Daniel Vogel, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto and Patrick Baudisch, a research scientist at Microsoft Research) developed the technology to solve several problems with mobile-phone touch screens. Most such screens are designed to be operated with a stylus; when touched with a finger the UI doesn't work so well. They also created a short video with a demonstration of how Shift works. Shift builds on an existing technology known as Offset Cursor, which displays a cursor just above the spot a user touches on the screen. That allows a user to place their finger below the item they wish to choose so that they can see the item, rather than hiding it with their finger."
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Making Fingers Work With Touch Screens

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  • Not how it works (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fnord666 (889225) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:55AM (#19161969) Journal
    From TFS:

    Shift builds on an existing technology known as Offset Cursor, which displays a cursor just above the spot a user touches on the screen. That allows a user to place their finger below the item they wish to choose so that they can see the item, rather than hiding it with their finger."
    from TFA:

    The Microsoft Research project, called Shift, automatically displays an image on the screen above where users place their finger showing the area under the users' finger. The image is circular and includes a small X. By toggling the tip of the finger, users can move the X to place it on top of the item they want to choose. Lifting the finger from the screen selects the item.
    You still click where you point with your finger. The system just shows you a small "virtual" image of what is under your finger at the moment and also a virtual cursor for where your click will be registered. The virtual cursor allows for more fine grained control.
  • Re:Counterintuitive (Score:2, Informative)

    by excelsior_gr (969383) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:56AM (#19161979)

    Not exactly. You use your finger to browse on the screen. Just above your finger you will see the cursor. The article says that lifting your finger from the screen selects the item (even more counter-intuitive in my opinion). At least, it says that the cursor will be displayed only when necessary, i.e. if the item is big enough this function will not be activated.

  • Re:Counterintuitive (Score:3, Informative)

    by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasma ... g minus caffeine> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:08AM (#19162211) Journal

    FTFS:

    Shift builds on an existing technology known as Offset Cursor, which displays a cursor just above the spot a user touches on the screen. That allows a user to place their finger below the item they wish to choose so that they can see the item, rather than hiding it with their finger.

    Am I the only one who read this and thought -- with a sigh -- that there was surely already an odious patent application filed for it?

    "Method and Apparatus for Displaying a Cursor Below the Designated Location" -- with the following attached C++ code:

    if (cursorY > 50) { cursorY -= 50; } . . .
  • Re:Counterintuitive (Score:4, Informative)

    by pruss (246395) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @11:09AM (#19162227) Homepage
    That is how Offset Cursor works. If you read the article, Shift is much better--it targets the area under the finger, but shows a circular callout of that area above the finger so it is not occluded. A variant even magnifies the area for higher precision. It actually looks really nice from the paper. I'd be tempted to make a PalmOS implementation, but I suspect it's being patented.

    Now if only they could solve the problem of screens getting smudged by fingers. :-)
  • by viewtouch (1479) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:19PM (#19163727) Homepage Journal
    Wait staff at restaurants, bars and clubs have been using graphical touch screen systems since 1985.

    I know because I created the first such system.
  • Re:Counterintuitive (Score:3, Informative)

    by pruss (246395) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:36PM (#19164013) Homepage
    I emailed one of the researchers. Yes, the technology is being patented, unsurprisingly.
  • Re:Counterintuitive (Score:3, Informative)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Thursday May 17, 2007 @12:44PM (#19164171) Homepage
    You can do exactly that with Shift, watching the video (linked in the article) helps to understand how it actually works.
  • by viewtouch (1479) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:03PM (#19164517) Homepage Journal
    I began experimenting with Infrared in 81-82, then resistive in 82-83 and capacitance in 84-85 before settling on that. In 86 I did the Comdex show and received two shoe boxes filled with business cards from people who wanted more information.

    Building touchscreen systems was not easy or cheap in those days. Today we don't even need computers to put touchscreens in front of users - just a display with a wireless network connection.

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