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Input Devices Displays

Textured Tactile Touchscreens 99

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the tremendous-triumph dept.
HizookRobotics writes "A new covering developed by Senseg and Toshiba Information Systems gives touchpads, LCDs, and other curved surfaces (eg. cellphones) programmable texture using a high-resolution electrotactile array — a grid of electrodes that excite nerves in the skin with small pulses of current to trick the body into perceiving texture, pressure, or pin-pricks depending on the current amplitude and electrode resolution. The new covering has many potential applications: interactive gaming, touchscreens with texture, robot interfaces, etc."
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Textured Tactile Touchscreens

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  • Pinpricks? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Annirak (181684) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:34AM (#33228738)

    There's a new way to present the user with error messages!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know some users that do need electric shock therapy to stop doing dumb things

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by lennier1 (264730)

        Too true.
        Once had a woman from the customer service dept. call me because her computer "had a virus" and she couldn't open any dialogs anymore. Turns out one of the keys on her keyboard was stuck ...

      • You mean a Bayesian Anti-Spam Filter system that trains the user

    • Re:Pinpricks? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:57AM (#33229012) Journal

      Can it be modified to present the user with the experience of, say, 1000 volts at about 20 amps?

      I'll take 1,000 please.

      • by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd.harrelsonfamily@org> on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:12AM (#33229174) Homepage

        This reminds me of the old cheesy sci-fi shows where a rogue computer/program/programmer/hacker shocks the victims to death through the computer keyboard. Begin a very technical person, I used to just scoff and laugh. If only I knew then that it would one day be possible.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Meh, I'll stick to blinding them by setting pixels to #ZZZZZZ.

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            Meh, I'll stick to blinding them by setting pixels to #ZZZZZZ.

            Did HatfulOfHollow [bash.org] ever become rich and famous then?

            I want to be first to use it in order to punish those who commit crimes against hexadecimal... ;-)

      • You'd need a pretty hefty battery for that. Perhaps the app could be programmed to calculate when the user would be most likely to drop his device/car battery onto his foot.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          You'd need a pretty hefty battery for that.

          I only asked for the simulation of the sensation, not actual electrocution. What kind of a monster do you think I am? I am aghast!

          But, seriously, how many batteries do you think? Are we talking backpack-sized or mount-on-a-roving-killer-enforcement-robot size? We have narrow corridors in our picking bays.

    • I don't know about you, but I just thought of a whole new dimension in spell-checking...

      Make typos painful!

  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:35AM (#33228768)
    There's an app for that too now.
  • ...to say that I'm looking forward to condoms and/or sex toys using this marvelous innovation!

    • by couchslug (175151)

      I'll be joining the androids dreaming of electric sheep. ;)

    • by hitmark (640295)

      make it a condom suit with vr glasses, and i'm game.

  • Keyboard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guppysap13 (1225926) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:38AM (#33228796)
    It would be nice if this could be developed into a way to simulate a keyboard on a touchscreen. All these multitouch devices are great to use, but it can be a pain to type on them, so a way to give tactile feedback on what is a key vs two keys, would help a lot.
    • by Goeland86 (741690)
      you beat me to it! I truly do miss the feel of a keyboard when using a touchscreen. If this means we can now get tactile feedback for pressing on "virtual keys", I'm all for it!
      • I know I'm old fashioned, but I just find it a hell of a lot easier to use a keyboard.
        No expensive tech needed. My typing on the N900 is slowly approaching full sized keyboard. :)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by darien.train (1752510)
      I think that's actually one of the main uses you'll see as the technology rolls out. I've worked on designing a few methods of large scale (as in life-sized) multi-touch alpha-numeric input and the biggest issue I experience at the moment is ergonomics, not haptic feedback. It's really hard to have a screen positioned in a way that makes it easy to view content and easy to type on at the same time. The texture will help but until better form factors are developed we're not going to get any really decent
      • by Nerdfest (867930)
        Any word on power consumption? Far be it for me to RTFA, but I would think this would require a non-trivial amount of power, perhaps limiting its usefulness on phones in the near future.
    • This interests me. Having an uncorrectible life-long vision problems, and fairly large hands and fingers, I find the tiny keyboards on Blackberry and other cell phones, etc., unusable, so use my roughtly 20/50 corrected vision, touch screen, etc., but would prefer something that let me touch-type on a smaller device since they seen to be taking over. The market for disability-accessible computer hardware and software, and computer textbooks and other manuals, is larger than many seem to realize.
  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:40AM (#33228812)
    ... the Rule 34 implementation of this.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Reminds me of the Star Trek Voyager episode Year Of Hell, where at one point a blinded tactical officer takes his station and activates some form of tactile interface.

    • by KookyMan (850095)

      Damn, you beat me to it. When I watched that episode, I was thinking that somehow the consoles changed shape (such as micro-bladders beneath the surface to give a 'raised' surface) but this definitely makes a lot more sense. Yet again, Star Trek is leading the way in predicting things.

      Now all they have to do is get the touch screen to interpret the difference between 'feeling' the screen to locate the button, and the intent to press the touchscreen button. And get it to do it well, and consistently. (Ye

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:01AM (#33229054)
        Is Star Trek really predicting things or is it more that the current generation of geeks were raised on Star Trek and they make it happen? I think its more of sci-fi pictures a futuristic world of utopia and has some gadgets to make it seem realistic and futuristic, people want to make the utopia happen and such so they go back and make real-world implementations of the gadgets.
        • by boxwood (1742976) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:33AM (#33229420)

          probably a bit of both. A lot of the cool stuff on star trek were done because of a limited budget. ie. the transporter effects were cheaper to produce than showing a shuttle landing on a planet. The consoles in TNG had touch screen control because they could just paint a peice of plastic and slap it on instead of installing individual buttons and knobs.

          Because of limited budgets, the prop designers had to follow KISS. Which is a good principle to follow when designing real devices even if you have a big budget.

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            Because of limited budgets, the prop designers had to follow KISS.

            Outside of maybe the episode with the aliens with the black and white painted faces, I don't think they followed KISS much.

        • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:43PM (#33230214) Homepage Journal

          Is Star Trek really predicting things or is it more that the current generation of geeks were raised on Star Trek and they make it happen?

          In at least one instance it was taking a Rodenberry idea and making it happen. He was approached by Disney, who wanted doors that would open and close automatically like Star Trek did. He had to sadly inform them that the "tech" behind the doors was called "stagehands". Somebody finally (don't know if it was Disney Imagineers or someone else) saw it ind invented them; self-opening doors were in most supermarkets within ten years. Citation: Walt Disney's biography (sorry, I have no no ISBN)

          My first flip phone was a Motorola Star Tek, which did resemble the original Star Trek communicators.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Ster (556540)

            My first flip phone was a Motorola Star Tek, which did resemble the original Star Trek communicators.

            Typoos are a bitch, aren't they?

            Indeed they are: it was a StarTAC [wikipedia.org].

            :-)

  • by BarryJacobsen (526926) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:42AM (#33228834) Homepage
    In other news, the porn industry just announced a press conference to announce a product that will change the way you "feel" about porn!
  • by AltairDusk (1757788) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:51AM (#33228950)
    It sounds like this could be used for a braille interface, I wonder if a braille interface that can change on the fly would ultimately be beneficial or prove confusing though...
    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @10:56AM (#33228998) Homepage Journal

      First they'll have to think about the best way to add a braille interface to a fly.

      • by Abstrackt (609015)

        First they'll have to think about the best way to add a braille interface to a fly.

        I'm sure they'll have no trouble finding people willing to test a braille interface on their crotch.

        • First they'll have to think about the best way to add a braille interface to a fly.

          I'm sure they'll have no trouble finding people willing to test a braille interface on their crotch.

          I mean, just think of the pickup lines!

    • by Goeland86 (741690)
      We'd have to ask a blind person to try it out to get the answer I suppose.
    • by Neon Spiral Injector (21234) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:06AM (#33229108)

      There have been moving Braille output devices in the past. They were used in the days of text terminals. One can be seen in the movie Sneakers.

      • also see the new show on USA Covert Affairs for current tech for the blind.
      • There have been moving Braille output devices in the past. They were used in the days of text terminals. One can be seen in the movie Sneakers.

        You're not thinking hard enough. Think of GUI interfaces with textured window outlines and braille fonts on window titles, window gadgets, and so on. A solution would have to be found to the hover problem, but a foot switch or foot click-enable pedal (or noise-based clicking, or, or, or...) would solve that nicely. Right now if you want to use a GUI you have to use a screen reader. You can use it in concert with a braille output device but that's not the same thing as having one device to work with so you don't need one hand on the pointing device, one hand on the reader, and a third hand for the keyboard. There are numerous mice with haptic feedback and adding vibration to a touchpad ought to be an exercise in triviality (there might be some de-jittering needed but otherwise it's a fairly well-solved problem) so there are already numerous ways the blind might apprehend a GUI. Though, I admit, I have not at all kept up with what the blind are using in specifics since the text-only days...

        • A solution would have to be found to the hover problem, but a foot switch or foot click-enable pedal (or noise-based clicking, or, or, or...) would solve that nicely.

          What about instead of just detecting a change in the capacitance at a particular point in the screen, detect how much it changes by. I'm thinking that the values would be different whether you were using your single finger, or if you had your thumb placed at a joint.
          Essentially, the blind could use their finger as their "eyes" (as they do today), and their thumb could toggle the "mouse button" that is the first joint in their index finger.
          I think it'd be fairly intuitive too, as if physically grabbing hol

    • Good idea. An ereader with braille would be pretty cool.

  • "Perceiving texture" means the texture of you-know-what, you-know-where.
  • No Thanks... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rotide (1015173) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:04AM (#33229080)
    Maybe I'm in a minority, but I already feel an odd sensation of "pain" when I use that odd textured (array of bumps?) on some netbook touchpads. It's a weird radiating electrical buzz feeling up and into my wrist when I slide my finger across it. I know there is no pain and it's just an odd nerve interpretation, but it exists for me none-the-less. I'd hate to use something like that on a regular basis and it sounds like they are trying to replicate that exact feeling on touch devices. No thank you!
    • by aicrules (819392)
      sounds like carpal tunnel or some other nerve damage....
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rotide (1015173)
        Nope, believe it or not, it has everything to do with the way my nerves interpret the texture. I have no pain, at all, otherwise with my finger/wrist. Simply playing with netbooks that use those bumpy touchpads showed me that I don't like the sensation. Again, I might be in a minority, even the only person alive that gets that sensation, but ya..
        • You're not the only person. It's almost like the sensation of my skin crawling all up my hand but radiating from my fingertip - but only on some laptops and touch devices. Unfortunately for my geek cred, the iPhone is one of them.
        • I'm glad to hear it, actually; I had an HP notebook that had a dimpled trackpad, and I wasn't sure if it was the dimples or the pad that was irritating my fingers, but even if I put something over it to keep my fingers from making contact, it still bothered me. It eventually got to the point that I really disliked the idea of using it, almost instinctively.

          However, for me, it didn't start until many months after I started using it, so it's still possible it was just the dimples, or possibly that they incre

    • by Zerth (26112) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @12:12PM (#33229924)

      It's a weird radiating electrical buzz feeling up and into my wrist when I slide my finger across it.

      Have you considered your netbook might be badly grounded?

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Rated as funny, but not really...

        My Macbook used to constantly give me small shocks around the edges/bumps on the wrist rest.
        I was travelling in some dubious parts of the world, with crummy ungrounded power, and a US-spec 12--240v power supply.
        The edges and bumps had more wear from use, and the wear and scratches would let the charge pass thru when there was a voltage float from the lack of grounding.
        Seriously annoying. I thought the pain was from a seam in the notebook case flexing and pulling small arm h

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shish (588640)

      Maybe I'm in a minority, but I already feel an odd sensation of "pain" when I use that odd textured (array of bumps?) on some netbook touchpads

      I used to get a really weird sensation from those bumps too -- not pain as such, but quite unpleasant. After a couple of weeks of daily use I seem to have become numb to it though... It would be interesting to know where that feeling comes from.

    • I'm the same way, it totally creeps me out. It is likely due to CTS in both of my hands though...
    • The difference here is that (at least theoretically) you can turn it off.
  • TTTT (Score:5, Funny)

    by Haffner (1349071) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:04AM (#33229082)
    Tremendous Triumph: Textured Tactile Touchscreens Touted To Totally Transform Technology
  • Porn! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by gravis777 (123605)

    Wow, this story JUST appeared in my RSS feeds, and out of the 20 or so commetns on the story so far, I am the 4th or 5th to suggest that the Porn industry will love this!

  • The biggest disadvantage of touchscreen virtual keyboards for me is that I have to look at them. On physical keys I can go by feel and muscle-memory lets me go much faster. Sounds like this could bridge that gap.
  • It set my pacemaker to hummingbird!!!

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @11:56AM (#33229698)

    a grid of electrodes that excite nerves in the skin with small pulses of current to trick the body into perceiving texture, pressure, or pin-pricks depending on the current amplitude and electrode resolution.

    Am I the only here imagining some malware creator cackling as he tries to figure a way to deliver as much current as the battery can pump with a single touch of the screen once his virus gets downloaded?

    • by genner (694963)

      a grid of electrodes that excite nerves in the skin with small pulses of current to trick the body into perceiving texture, pressure, or pin-pricks depending on the current amplitude and electrode resolution.

      Am I the only here imagining some malware creator cackling as he tries to figure a way to deliver as much current as the battery can pump with a single touch of the screen once his virus gets downloaded?

      They have these things called fuses that could prevent problems like that.

  • Logitech couldn't manage to sell the "iFeel" mouse, back in 2000 which does make you "feel" the underlying objects on desktop. I have one, hardware still works. They are a huge name in input devices with a huge prestige. People still didn't buy the idea.

    http://www.logitech.com/en-us/172/1183 [logitech.com] -->press release.

    Who came up with this electrocute user idea? Doesn't Toshiba guys have anything else to do like, make use of the freaking Cell chip they invested billions in?

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      That's the same idea on paper, but in practice it's completely different.

      If your mouse make you "feel" the underlying objects on desktop, it means there's a disconnect between the actual objets and the feedback. To use a car analogy, that's like feeling the road through the steering wheel. I haven't tried it, but I'm guessing it would feel like my mouse is rolling over or bumping into things on my mouse pad, it would not feel like I was "touching" the things on my desktop.

      The tactile touchscreen idea, on th

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      It's cool tech but it doesn't solve a problem. At the moment neither does a tactile touch screen but it has potential possibilities.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday August 12, 2010 @05:35PM (#33233840) Homepage Journal

    I don't want little zaps simulating texture. What I want is an electrically activated memory plastic screen that pops up (and releases down) little bumps under software control where the lines drawn on the GUI appear on the screen. Some raised textures on buttons and other GUI widgets. So I can feel where I'm touching, just as I can see where the widgets are. The hard part is making it all transparent, but that's it.

  • Should be good for making touch based devices more accessible to blind / partially sighted people.
  • This is a way to make a panoramic view touchable.

    Imagine a thin suit that has this on the inside, and that projects a processed presentation of the environment on the body of the wearer. You would feel the car coming from behind before it hit you. :)

    (Yes, I wrote on this before.)

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