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Input Devices Hardware Technology

Magic Finger Turns Any Surface Into a Touch Interface 47

cylonlover writes "A trip on public transport or to the local coffee shop might give the impression that touchscreens are everywhere, but scientists at Autodesk Research of the University of Alberta and the University of Toronto are looking to take the ubiquity of touch interfaces to the next level. They are developing a 'Magic Finger' that allows any surface to detect touch input by shifting the touch technology from the surface to the wearer's finger. It's a proof-of-concept prototype made up of a little Velcro ring that straps to the wearer's fingertip with a trail of wires leading to a box of electronics. On the ring there are a pair of optical sensors. One is a low resolution, high-speed sensor for tracking movement, the other a high-resolution camera, which is able to detect 32 different surface textures with 98 percent accuracy."
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Magic Finger Turns Any Surface Into a Touch Interface

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  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @10:09PM (#41677235) "Magic Finger"...

    Doesn't help that we were discussing the naughty ads that British beer brewer "Bishop's Finger" uses...

    "I derive untold pleasure from a Bishop's^H^H^H^H^H^H^HMagic Finger."
  • prior art? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tastecicles ( 1153671 ) on Tuesday October 16, 2012 @10:39PM (#41677451)

    I seem to remember manufacturers of optical mice making such bold claims as being able to track on glass. This is just an optical mouse without the plastic case.

    • by Fjandr ( 66656 )

      What I got from the article is this has very little to do with hardware, and a lot to do with the software behind it.

      It's using optical recognition not to track a pointer over any given surface, but to actually detect what the surface is and automatically send control signals to other things based simply on the surface touched.

      The input is actually almost irrelevant.

  • The Total Recall remake from a couple of months back included something very similar to this -- A phone embedded into your palm; to use it as a video conferencing thing you just put your hand on a sheet of glass (window, windshield, sign, whatever) and the display showed up on that surface.

  • We've taken the optical electronics out of an optical mouse and stuck it on a velcro strap?

    And you *still* need wires?

    This is what passes for innovation?

    I think... no.


  • by richardtallent ( 309050 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @12:02AM (#41677917) Homepage

    This makes as little sense in the modern age as those "virtual reality" helmets we're all supposed to be using by now.

    Companies like Leap are making much more advanced technology that requires nothing attached to your hand and uses motion sensors to track your hand movements with incredible precision. Comparatively, this guy's mouse-finger contraption looks as silly as Doc's brain-wave reader in BttF.

    (I don't represent Leap, I just remember hearing about their tech awhile back.)

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @12:29AM (#41678063)

    An annoying smartphone ringing can be muted by touching the bag that it’s in. The wearer can start an app or send a saved text message by touching a logo on their shirt.

    I'd be afraid to scratch myself or use a urinal without safe search on.

  • by kenorland ( 2691677 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @01:41AM (#41678357)

    Normal people don't strap these sensors to their fingers (where there is no room for batteries), they put them in a pen. Normal people also don't use bar codes that weren't designed for the purpose, they use patterns that work much better for determining position. So, normal people just buy a Logitech IO2 or the Livescribe pen. []

  • not so new (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pbjones ( 315127 ) on Wednesday October 17, 2012 @02:24AM (#41678543)

    bought a finger mouse on ebay few years ago, although it was not as sophisticated this this one, it was very similar.

  • From the description it sounds pretty much like the handheld device I use that turns 'any surface into a touch screen'. Now it could just be my general germ phobia, but I go out of my way to avoid touching most surfaces in public.. so I am not convinced on that side either. That said, if it will make me more productive by replacing the mouse mentioned above and without interfering with typing, I will give it a try. Am I hopeful? Nope.
  • "A trip on public transport or to the local coffee shop might give the impression that touchscreens are everywhere"

    Here in The Netherlands many people had a good trip in the local coffee shop and had such impressions decades ago.

  • Couldn't they have come up with better scenarios? Ohhh look I can move the map by moving my finger UNDER the tablet! Ohhh look a different QR code. There is way to much "music pads" and not enough interaction with real devices (which is what I thought this was about)
  • I gotcha Magic Finger [] right here [].

    And Here [].

    And here [].

    And (finally) here [].
  • That video from the 1st link is totally fucken hilarious!
  • cool? maybe..

    practical? I don't think so...
    as the video shows (in the first link), (a user must probably first configure all possible gestures,) and then remeber every possible gesture, because this device has _zero_ intuitivity...

    I mean, you tap your bag to mute your tablet, but what if your laptop and mobile are also in the bag...
    in the meeting the projector is mapped to the table, hmm yes, who would think otherwise!

    The only application I see in this may be s smaller mice, or the control on the back of th

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court