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Displays Input Devices Microsoft Patents Hardware

Microsoft Patents Shape-Shifting Display 112

Stoobalou writes "In layman's terms, Microsoft's patent is for a special type of touch-screen display which includes a 'shape-memory' layer at its base. When activated by a special frequency of ultraviolet light, individual blocks — not-coincidentally the same size as a pixel on the display part — can be raised or lowered, lending the displayed image physical texture."
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Microsoft Patents Shape-Shifting Display

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  • by DavMz (1652411) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:40AM (#34374218)

    The first application I see for this is a decent touch screen keyboard, if this shape-memory effect can be triggered fast enough. I'd feel much more comfortable typing on an tablet if there was some feedback to the typing.

  • Alternate use (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:42AM (#34374242)

    Sit on the display in a night club: the ambient black light projectors will turn it into a vibrating cushion.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:44AM (#34374262)

    The first application I see is *finally* a decent braille screen for the blind. They can even dispense with the LCD screen altogether, to make the device affordable.

  • by robot256 (1635039) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:49AM (#34374324)
    I'd heard that with the advent of voice synthesizers and computers, Braille was going out of favor. But if this works, it could be a better experience than a computer yapping at you while you surf the web, and make smartphones usable in quiet places.
  • by arivanov (12034) on Monday November 29, 2010 @09:52AM (#34374342) Homepage

    Excellent idea if the pixels can be raised far enough and stay raised without whoever is touch-reading them getting skin cancer from the UV.

    I don't geddit...

    There are plenty of materials that will change their properties based on the basic electric field. This is the principle on which LCD's work. It should be possible to "stiffen" or "loosen" a display selectively without the UV bit just by adding a 4th "stiffness" pixel element similar to the 4th pixel element on Sharp displays. If that is too difficult, simulating different texture by vibrating through the use of a pieso-element in place of the fourth pixel is also an option. Tons of ways of doing this. Why UV?

  • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday November 29, 2010 @10:11AM (#34374522) Journal

    Having helped people using screen readers - a linear form of output, like speech, does NOT do an adequate job of relaying a 3-dimensional output (x,y,color). A braille display, and one with textures for various gui elements... seems nice to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 29, 2010 @10:50AM (#34374872)

    The first application I see is *finally* a decent braille screen for the blind.

    I hate to be a killjoy, but that'll almost certainly be a later application. The first will likely be improved tactile feedback for existing touchscreen devices for the sighted. Why? That's where the money is.

    According to Wikipedia, there were 1.3 million legally blind Americans in 1994-1995. In contrast, Apple sold 3 million iPads in their first 80 days, with most of time occurring before the international launch.

    This technology will be a boon to the visually impaired, but it's the general market appeal that's going to continue to justify the R&D costs and get it out to consumers.

  • Re:I Thought This Up (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bagels (676159) on Monday November 29, 2010 @10:51AM (#34374886)
    Today's XKCD strip [] seems appropriate here. Granted, there's no guarantee that Microsoft actually plans on implementing this ever...

The herd instinct among economists makes sheep look like independent thinkers.