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New Touchscreen Technology Like Writing On Paper 123

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the harder-better-faster dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A company claims it has the technology to make writing on touchscreens more like writing with pencil and paper, when the harder you press the thicker the line you produce. The technology uses a material called Quantum Tunneling Composite (QTC), the resistance of which is extremely sensitive to pressure, unlike today's touchscreen phones, which might be fine for basic finger-pointing, but they are poor at gauging the pressure of the touch. The hope is that this will be useful in Asia for handwriting recognition, because Asian scripts use a lot of variation in line thickness. Interestingly, screens with a standard 2D touch matrix can get the extra measure of control using a narrow strip of QTC down the side."
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New Touchscreen Technology Like Writing On Paper

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  • Three words (Score:4, Funny)

    by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Friday January 29, 2010 @04:27PM (#30955324)

    Etch A Sketch.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 29, 2010 @04:28PM (#30955338)

    I'm in line at a store and I see someone ahead of me jamming the stylus frantically into the signature pad, as if pressing harder will somehow make the pad sense the stylus better. The pad is broken precisely because dimwits keep stabbing it so hard!

  • Hey, back in the days, I forget about when, the monkey took a lot of flak for posting certain types of stories.

    Anyways, for what it's worth, I find the monkey's story selection has been consistently good - interesting and relevant "news for nerd" - unlike those by a certain other picker who will remain nameless (starts with "sam").

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      but Kdawson doesn't start with 'sam'

      KDawson isn't so bad, he's edited a couple of my submissions well, but lets not allow that to get in the way of a good old slagging-off session :)

    • by pnewhook (788591)

      A company claims it has the technology to make writing on touchscreens more like writing with pencil and paper, when the harder you press the thicker the line you produce.

      Anyways, for what it's worth, I find the monkey's story selection has been consistently good - interesting and relevant

      Except the capability in the article (quoted above) I had on my tablet from 5 years ago. Press harder on hte stylus and you get a thicker line. Why exactly is this new or fascinating?

  • I was just having a cigarette today and a bunch of our graphic designers where talking about how they would immediately buy an ipad if it had a screen like this, but as is they where skipping.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by ELitwin (1631305)
      Do the non-smoking graphic designers have a different preference?
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      any capacitative screen already has pretty good touch sensitivity. try running a rooted android phone and it has a tool that analyzes the amount of pressure as well as speed of movements, etc. It seems quite accurate and does what this tocuhscreen tech is advertising.

      • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

        I think that this wouldn't be possible if you were using a capacitive stylus with a narrow tip. The reason is that the screen is not actually measuring pressure, but relies on the fact that fingers are 'squishy' and when you press harder more contact is being made and therefore either the output value or the number of pixels goes up.

        There's a stylus that Ars reviewed a week or two that claimed to make the touchpad on a laptop work like a pressure-sensitive wacom, and it relied on having a large tip that wa

    • by mopower70 (250015)
      As a toy or as a tool? Because it would fail miserably as the latter. And any serious designer who thinks otherwise... isn't.
  • You mean, something I won't be able to do legibly?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 29, 2010 @04:34PM (#30955442)

    I seem to remember Wacom tablets having this kind of feature for a long long time... granted, the texture wasn't paper-like, but you could replace the 'nibs' or the ends to change the drag-feel of the stylus on the tablet. Best of all, no batteries for any of the devices - the tablet drove them with power provided as long as they were within a quarter of an inch of the surface. How is this revolutionary?

    • Yeah I agree, I came here about to say this but apparently you beat me to the punch. I just think that it must be Wacom wasn't a cool enough name for Slashdot's frontpage and had to have something with "Quantum" in the name to justify it being 'revolutionary'
    • by mikael_j (106439) on Friday January 29, 2010 @04:40PM (#30955538)

      The main selling point of Wacom tablets is exactly this, the reason they can so much for the Cintiq is because it's about as close to drawing on real paper/canvas as you can get with a computer. And as you stated, you can replace the nibs to get a different feel.

      IMO (as someone who's used Wacom tablets for ages and prefers them to regular mice) the only real downside to Wacom tablets is that they take up a bit of space and are expensive but once you get used to using the stylus or the tablet mice (up with those is "up" on the tablet, not "forward" on the mouse) you'll have serious issues with regular mice.

      /Mikael

      • by mikael_j (106439)

        "...they can charge so much for the Cintiq...", somehow I missed a word when typing.

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        Agree. I bought a Wacom tablet as an extra for one of my machines, and liked it so much that I bought another, and use them as the primary controller for both the PCs at my workdesk. It is nice to be able to hold a pen or mouse in your hand, and move back and forth between machines using the same controller.

        Another feature that some Wacom tablets offer is that they can detect 'lean'... if you hold your pen at an angle while drawing, it can respond with a different amount of spread or line thickness.
      • Exactly. Nowadays they even offer to detect the *angle* of the pen! (E.g. for airbrushing.)

        A friend of mine bought the big Cintiq for working with ZBrush, and according to him it’s just plain insane. The price is too (2000€), but he said it’s worth it, as it just beats paper or anything else out of the water.
        (No, neither he is nor I am a marketing guy in disguise. ^^ We really feel like that.)

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        I wonder how much having a paper-like texture would help with handwriting recognition. I find I write a lot more legibly with a pencil on paper than with a biro or a stylus on a smooth screen. I have arthritis in my hands anyway but I think most people find that the extra friction helps control their strokes.

        If they can make this thing cheap enough I'd like to get one for making notes on screen. I already type much faster than I write but being able to sketch on diagrams would be useful.

    • by Brandee07 (964634) on Friday January 29, 2010 @04:41PM (#30955558)

      http://www.wacom.com/bamboo/bamboo_pen_touch.php

      You can get 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity for $99. The next product line up offers MORE pressure sensitivity and can detect pen tilt as well.

      So, yeah, I'm not seeing the innovation here.

      • http://www.wacom.com/bamboo/bamboo_pen_touch.php

        You can get 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity for $99. The next product line up offers MORE pressure sensitivity and can detect pen tilt as well.

        So, yeah, I'm not seeing the innovation here.

        The innovation is the way the pressure sensitivity is achieved. If I understand the article correctly, it's cheaper to manufacture than the alternatives.

      • by ninjackn (1424235)
        I didn't RTFA but I read the link in the article and it's really interesting. It's innovative because it's a pressure sensitive resistive technology. Not only can you get a location measurement from a touch you also get pressure. It's amazing because you can use anything physical to do it, push with your finger, your noise, your toe or a chop stick and it will still register. The iPhone screen or a wacom tablet can't do that.

        In terms of feeling more "real", when you write on a piece of paper it's the pap
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by newcastlejon (1483695)
      Because it's a touchscreen. Those aren't new in themselves, but this is apparently the first touch-sensitive one.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zocalo (252965)
        There seems to be a little confusion over Wacom's product ranges here, but the device most people are probably thinking of is the Cintiq [wacom.eu], not one of their more conventional tablets like the Intuos range. They do everything this new screen does and more, as they support all of the pressure and tilt detection routines of the tablets, so the only things that might be novel about this new screen is nature of the QTC technology being used or the cost of its production. Hopefully, the latter; the Cintiqs are a
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Wacom tablet is not a display device, just an input device. Having a similar level of pressure sensitivity as a Wacom tablet but on the actual display device would be a huge improvement.
      • by Zerth (26112)

        The Wacom tablet is not a display device, just an input device. Having a similar level of pressure sensitivity as a Wacom tablet but on the actual display device would be a huge improvement.

        What, like a Wacom Cintiq? [wacom.com]

    • Presumably this doesn't require a stylus, though the article is very light on detail (other than that this is a disruptive game-changing 3D technology that will allow revolutionary improvements to phones).
      • by mikael_j (106439)

        Somehow having the entire surface be pressure sensitive seems like a bad idea unless you want to start practicing hand acrobatics to avoid touching the surface of the device with your hand while drawing or writing.

        /Mikael

        • by Zerth (26112)

          If the surface is multi-touch(for large values of multi), you can implement a frog-eye algorithm that ignores anything that hasn't moved in an interesting manner recently. Or ignore blobs that run off the edge.

          For mouse-pointer emulation, just attach the cursor to the first blob that touches, keep track of other blobs that touch later and ignore them until you remove all blobs. Then start over again with the first blob. Maybe have some size/shape characteristics(eg nothing larger than a basketball players

    • by BronsCon (927697)

      The stylus reports pressure back to the tablet. You don't need a stylus with this new tech.

  • Two words: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Cycon (11899)

    ...iPad Pro.

    The first iteration is geared around media consumption.

    Perhaps a second line will integrate technologies like this for media creation.

    Either way expect something like it running Adroid.

  • What would we use it for, here?

    Cursive writing programs are being eliminated from elementary school.
    The quality of printing is also going downhill.
    Everything here is being replaced by a keyboard (real and virtual).

    Is this a technology that will see a major uptake only in a limited part of the world, amongst those who have trouble writing Pinyin(or similar)?

    (But it would be great to have this sensitive enough to use a real brush to paint in digital ink.)

    • You started with a question and finished with the answer. Pressure sensitivity is handy for lots of things, some of which have not even been invented.

      • by starbugs (1670420)

        You started with a question and finished with the answer. Pressure sensitivity is handy for lots of things, some of which have not even been invented.

        My question is whether this will find any widespread use here. The post focuses on writing in Asia. The article mentions pressure, but is it sensitive enough for a strand of hair(from a brush)?

        I'm not in Asia and digital art is something that is cool, but a 'niche market' that I doubt this technology is aimed at. So will we see any devices deploying this tech here?

        My saying that something would be cool to do is not an answer to my question of what we will see here.

        • I wrote in a different thread that pressure sensitivity could be handy in touch based user interfaces. It could replace the context button on the mouse. Press a link on a web browser lightly to see the alt text. Press it heavily to activate the link. Press it very hard to open the link in a new tab or window. That kind of thing.

    • What would we use it for, here?

      Drawing?

    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      Did you ever see them writing in Star Trek?

      Writing was for Admirals and Captains, not regular folks!

    • How would this have any relevance to pinyin? Anyone who had trouble writing pinyin would also have trouble writing English.

  • The real issue. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Velorium (1068080)
    The real issue with writing on a screen is that it slides so damn much. Give me some miracle surface that allows for some friction while still being easy enough to glide with fingers.
  • So it still won't be any good if I want to write while sprawled out on the floor, or on the bed... the pencil always goes through the paper.
  • Although this might be very old news to secretaries and office workers.

    Accelerometers already sense when the device is being thrown, now with the pressure sensitive touchpad, the device is finally fully luser-ready.
  • How is this not like the wacom tablet I already have? It is very much pressure sensitive. Also, pencils do not produce significantly thicker lines when you apply more pressure. You can draw a faint line, a regular line, and break the graphite, but that's about it.

  • .....and a few million dollars in research funding we'll have a product that's almost as good as paper.
  • This is better than Wacom because you get all this extra sensitivity without the pen. It's easier to manufacture and something they didn't mention, which seems possible to me, is flexible touch displays in the future due to this screen type not needing an air gap to function. This is about so much more than writing.
  • by JoshDM (741866) on Friday January 29, 2010 @05:31PM (#30956232) Homepage Journal

    ... you can make a big ol' permanent dot.

  • Hey this paper stuff sounds pretty good. I might have to go get me some and try it out.

  • ...because pressing harder with a pen or a pencil doesn't produce thicker lines.

  • And support the Scifi channel.

  • Both these devices seem to be coming of ages, they were off mentioned in sci-fi. I really think they may replace the keyboard and mouse for most applications soon. They doesn't seem to be a electric pencil or stylish to go with touchscreen yet, and that would make some sense, particular if you could use it as a cursor for a distance as well as up close, and it good have the equivalent of mouse buttons on it.

    ---

    Tablet PCs [feeddistiller.com] Feed @ Feed Distiller [feeddistiller.com]

  • Unless I'm missing something, I can already do that with the Gimp on my laptablet. Laptoblet? Tablaptoplet? Taplaptoblet? You get the idea.

  • This could give a new twist to input devices, adding a new dimension to the interaction. Will be harder to show in video, and probably will need some training or adjustment, but possibilities could be as big as was multitouch alone.
  • First of all, "Asian scripts" is a totally bogus term: East Asian scripts (Chinese and derivatives, aka CJK), which are logographic [wikipedia.org], has no relation whatsoever with other Asian scripts (e. g. Mongolian, Thai, Indic, Arabic etc.), which are alphabetic [wikipedia.org] and very much related to non-Asian alphabetic scripts (e. g. Greek and derivatives like Latin).

    Second of all, neither the CJK scripts nor the other Asian scripts has a stronger emphasis on line thickness than non-Asian scripts. Including line thickness as an ad

  • to put the QTC on the pen tip and leave the screen with ordinary touch sensation.
  • why does the screen need to be pressure sensitive? the primary application of this technology is for handwriting and sketching. Wouldn't it make more sense to add a spring for resistance and make the tip of the pen pressure sensitive rather then recreating the entire writing surface?
    • Someone mod the parent up, this is the most spot-on comment here. Why do you need pressure sensitive touch when pressure sensitivity is for capturing handwriting, which is most naturally done with a stylus, which can commonly support sensitivity with current technology?
      For a perfect example of this, check out the LifeBook T-4310 [shopfujitsu.com] or T-4410.

  • >> The hope is that this will be useful in Asia for handwriting recognition, because Asian scripts use a lot of variation in line thickness

    Hmm, I get the feeling that this is 99% what a western company thinks they want in Asia, and 1% possibly actually desirable over here. I'm reasonably familiar with Chinese, Japanese and Korean and they're all happily represented by fonts with no line variation. Hand-painted calligraphy or some of the fancier fonts are about the only place I've seen line variat
  • As another poster mentioned I am quite worried about the health safety of this product.
    My impression is that the product includes spiked balls that are constantly pushed against each other (maybe even just from vibrations not just when touched). The spikes are if I understand correctly of nanoscale dimensions. So, these spikes will break off once in a while. Too often and perhaps the material won't work well, but even just a little bit and you now have microscopic spearheads that may likely penetrate any fa

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