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Microsoft's "Pseudo-Transparent" and Fold-Up PCs

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the feel-free-to-send-me-one dept.

Microsoft 94

waderoush writes "At the CHI 2009 conference, which wrapped up yesterday in Boston, Microsoft researchers showed off two radical prototypes that push the boundaries of user interfaces. One was a 'pseudo-transparent' iPhone-like device called nanoTouch, which has a trackpad on the back rather than a traditional touch screen and gives visual feedback in the form of a simulated image of the user's finger (the effect is like looking straight through the device). The other was a folding dual-screen device called Codex that can switch automatically between landscape, portrait, collaborative, or competitive modes depending on its 'posture' or orientation. If Microsoft doesn't build such devices itself, 'somebody else will, so it's really important to understand what the issues are,' said researcher Ken Hinckley."

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94 comments

Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (3, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534171)

The nanoTouch is designed to be held by the edges in one hand while you operate the trackpad with the index finger of your other hand. The cleverest touch, so to speak, is that the device uses "pseudotransparency" to provide visual feedback--basically, the "cursor" is a life-size picture of a finger that tracks with the position of your actual finger, as if you were looking through the device with X-ray glasses.

I'm sure that will be hugely useful on a bus or train as I'm attempting to hold on to the railing with one hand, and use my device with the other. (I won't even mention usage in cars, because you're not supposed to be doing that. :-P)

Dear Microsoft, allow me to introduce you to the flaw in your scheme. Or should I say, two flaws?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposable_thumbs#Importance [wikipedia.org]

NEXT!

Codex consists of a pair of OQO mini-tablet PCs, each with a 3-inch-by-5-inch screen, mounted in a hinged device with built-in sensors that can detect how the hinges are oriented. The sensors are important because Hinckley's whole concept is that a dual-screen device should be able to switch configurations on the fly depending on what "posture" it's in.

So it's a Nintendo DS with accelerometers? It's not that the idea is completely without merit, but I'm not sure how much it really pushes the envelope. And the example they gave of two people working across the table "battleship style" would not be something the unit could configure "reflexively" with its sensors as it cannot distinguish "tablet PC on table" from "book on table" from "battleship" modes. The user would still need to tell it what to do.

If Microsoft doesn't build such devices itself, 'somebody else will'

Well, I can guarantee that Microsoft won't build the devices. Innovation has never been their strong suit. Their usual M.O. is to wait until someone else demonstrates a good concept, then throw a ton of resources at making a better version. Once all competition is eliminated, the software or device stagnates. (No new ideas are being generated.)

Hinckley's comments strike me more as Microsoft trying to be prepared for anything new Apple might throw at them. A possibly reaction of sorts to the number of times they've been caught with their pants down. Except the problem is that these ideas seem kind of random with no clear focus on where they might be going. In result, Microsoft is going to miss the boat again when a competitor (not necessarily Apple) introduces Yet Another(TM) great advancement in interface technology.

Personally, I see a lot more promise in technologies like Siftables [organic.com] . Emerging new interface schemes that will be a core part of the next generation of user interfaces. The final product will probably look a lot different from the units we see today (much like touch screens evolved until we got devices like iPhones and DSes), but the core concept will be what drives the next generation.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is spending their time contemplating their collective navels. "Oh hey, look! Touchscreens and accelerometers are becoming industry standard! Those must be the next generation of technology!" No, that's what we call *THIS* generation.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534431)

If this had an apple logo on it you'd be standing in line to buy one.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534529)

If this had an apple logo on it you'd be standing in line to buy one.

It's not very kind of you to assume he must be a mindless Apple fanboy because he offers constructive criticism. That is, I've seen no positive sign that this must be true of him and that there are no alternative explanations for why he feels the way he does. Despite that, the "Apple vs. Microsoft" tone of your comment did make me think of something.

This is actually innovative, in that it's something new despite the summary comment that "if we didn't build this, someone else will." So here we have an example of genuine innovation from Microsoft. I wonder if they realize that the only reason why they can do this is because there is no monopoly maintaining a stranglehold on small, portable PCs and smartphones. For comparison, just imagine trying to market a completely new, commercial, closed-source operating system and having to compete with Microsoft and Windows. I mention closed-source there so that this is a comparsion and not a contrast.

I wonder if the irony of one of the most successful monopolists having room to innovate because there is no sole monopoly in this new (to them) market is lost on the folks at Microsoft.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534737)

I think his response was more of an "open letter" to gadget fetishists rather than a specific reply to his parent.

"Apple vs. Microsoft" are your words, not his. Surface is innovative. These toys are not so innovative and I predict that they will be as well-received and successful as the Zunem, should they make it to mass-production.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (2, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535201)

Microsoft launched Surface, its tabletop computer system, in the UK yesterday [today.com] .

People will use the touchscreen computer "the same way they have interacted with everyday items their entire lives," said Philippa Snare of Microsoft UK, "with hands and with gestures." Instead of a keyboard or mouse, the techno-table uses a 30-inch touch-sensitive screen that also reacts to objects placed on it. Photos are automatically downloaded from cameras or phones. A spilt cup of coffee causes the "I'm a PC" guy to appear on the screen and start shouting at you for ruining his shirt, and your fourth Big Mac of the day causes him to keel over with a heart attack and the system to blue-screen. Users then make an appropriate gesture.

Unlike conventional computers which only one person can use at a time, Surface is a "multi-touch" system allowing several people can use the screen at the same time. Stealing someone's data is as simple as sliding your phone onto the screen. "We've made it completely compatible with popular gadgets such as Windows Mobile and Zune."

Surface will appear in communal areas such as shops, hotels and pubs first, allowing the public to get used to the new technology and see how it responds to pints being poured over it and kebabs in the coin slot.

Surface is part of Microsoft"s vision of the Digital Home. "Imagine your television, your refrigerator, your gas boiler running Windows Vista - I mean, Windows 7. What could possibly go wrong?"

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538447)

Neither this nor the surface are innovative.

*nix people had been making these surface devices for years before Microsoft even started development on them. And don't think they thought of this one either, I was a prototype (home made) of something just like this on hackaday over a YEAR ago!

All they've done (once again) is taken someone else's idea and thrown money at it.

Microsoft is NOT innovative, they have never been and probably never will be. Not only are their products usually YEARS behind others' that do the same thing (or more), but whenever they do introduce something that looks innovative, it's something they've either bought, stolen or copied from a competitor.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539045)

*nix people had been making these surface devices for years before Microsoft even started development on them.

[citation needed]

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27546793)

The technology behind Surface is called multi-touch and has at least a 25-year history,[7] beginning in 1982, with pioneering work being done at the University of Toronto (multi-touch tablets) and Bell Labs (multi-touch screens). The product idea for Surface was initially conceptualized in 2001 by Steven Bathiche of Microsoft Hardware and Andy Wilson of Microsoft Research.[8]

First paragraph. [wikipedia.org]

That puts the technology at having existed for 19 years before M$ got their hands on it!

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535109)

It's not very kind of you to assume he must be a mindless Apple fanboy because he offers constructive criticism.

It doesn't mean he's an Apple fanboy, it's that he's clearly an anti-Microsoft fanboy. The "Microsoft is never innovative and always copies somebody else" argument is a slashdot catechism which literally means he'd be happier if it came from another company (maybe not any other company, but another company). Apple is the only other company he explicitly called out by name as being innovative (he also mentioned Siftables, which I might humbly suggest are also difficult to operate one-handed on a subway in its current form). Then he creates a strawman assertion attributed to Microsoft and snarks at it. It's entirely laid out before us that he'd be happier with it being Apple than Microsoft. Which is fine, but there's no pretending it isn't happening.

Aside from that, it is a little ridiculous that Microsoft won't produce these because Microsoft isn't innovative seems to imply that these things...made by Microsoft...are innovative. The innovation already happened here, and thus the problem is bugfixes/polish, mass-producing, and marketing these things; or there is no innovation, in which case Microsoft shouldn't have a problem producing them. It's self-contradictory, or at least missing a step -- maybe it's really that Microsoft is innovative but is too risk-averse to give the go-ahead to innovative products.

The other criticisms are of varying quality -- one-handed subway use is fair criticism, the opposable thumbs one might be valid but I think it's worth investigating whether it just presupposes some things about UI design from experience with touch UI designed for thumbs, but the DS with accelerometers argument is a red herring because it's missing the obvious hinge sensors (which the article explicitly mentions).

That's not at all to say that I think these things are going to come to pass. I worry about whether it's really more intuitive to touch something from behind than to just pull out a pen (which is definitely less fun than direct-touch), especially with a simulated finger that may not behave quite like my own and very probably doesn't look much like my fingers. And as for the dual-screen thing, I just don't think that's the optimal direction to go in. I mean, the collaborative/competitive aspect could be cool, but I'd hope the direction we steer would allow two independent devices to operate kind of like that. I guess what I'm saying is I'd like it to work more like the Siftables the GP mentioned. See, I'm not completely down on him :).

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535285)

I think the problem was he wasn't offering "constructive criticism" he was just ranting about a research project that isn't even a consumer device yet and from the tone of the post it very much sounded like an anti-M$ dismissive rant rather than anything constructive about applying the valuable parts of the research to a commercial endeavor..

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535995)

I think the problem was he wasn't offering "constructive criticism" he was just ranting about a research project that isn't even a consumer device yet

That's a fair criticism as I can see how my post would be interpreted that way. I will say that I have strong feelings against Microsoft, but I try and not let it cloud my judgment. I *am* skeptical of everything Microsoft does though, because they have burned the market repeatedly in the past.

That being said, the nanoTouch is fundamentally flawed. The design is not well built for one-handed operation, which is generally a show stopper for today's portable devices.

rather than anything constructive about applying the valuable parts of the research to a commercial endeavor.

I'd love to offer something more constructive about these devices, but I don't see any viable uses for the nanoTouch. The Codex is simply a research platform for rehashing commercially deployed technology. As it stands right now, neither of these devices are going anywhere. That's my opinion. You're free to disagree with it. :-)

MS Codex dual screen - er, Asus, anybody? (1)

ErkDemon (1202789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537577)

Asus:

http://dvice.com/archives/2009/03/asus_dual-scree.php [dvice.com]
http://www.liliputing.com/2009/03/asus-shows-dual-screen-notebook-prototype.html [liliputing.com]
http://gizmodo.com/5162780/asus-dual-panel-laptop-resembles-two-iphones-mating [gizmodo.com]

Mind you, I really liked the look of the wallet that the MS Codex came in, with the mesh pocket and pen-holder and stuff.

Is there any chance that they might market just the wallet, without all the nasty heavy electronic stuff? The wallet's cool. Wouldn't mind one of those. You could maybe stick, like, a tear-off notepad in it. It'd be useful.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1, Troll)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534549)

If this had an apple logo on it you'd be standing in line to buy one.

An interesting troll, Mr. AC. (Who's apparently now a terrorist [slashdot.org] ! :-P) Unfortunately, one that has made its way into the public consciousness.

Allow me to pose a question to you: If Apple is built entirely on hype rather than substance, then how did they manage to convert so many former Apple haters to their cause?

Maybe, just maybe Apple has earned support from the market by making superior products. Not everyone likes their products (true of any product), but a large enough segment to where their following is strong. Do you really think Apple would manage to remain the poster-child for innovation if their products started sucking? The correct answer is 'no'. They would go back to having a small niche following and a dire financial situation.

Customer loyalty only takes companies so far before customers leave for greener pastures. Just ask Palm. Or Nintendo and Sega five years ago. Or Commodore. Don't forget HP, Sun, and SGI. So on and so forth.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (5, Funny)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534733)

Allow me to pose a question to you: If Apple is built entirely on hype rather than substance, then how did they manage to convert so many former Apple haters to their cause? Maybe, just maybe Apple has earned support from the market by making superior products.

I don't know. I was watching a TV ad this week, and a pretty technically savvy guy named Giampaolo [youtube.com] said Macs are just about aesthetics, not computing power.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (2, Funny)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534851)

Hm ... I got an "Interesting" mod. While the karma is appreciated, I have somehow failed to be "Funny." Let me ruin the joke by explaining it: you really shouldn't get information about Macs from a painfully staged Mac comment in a Microsoft ad. Da-dum-dum! Thank you.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534927)

Sigh... tried to be funny and mod it informative. Damn mousewheel slipped.

Still is funny in an ironic way though. Guess who made the mouse?

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535703)

Now that's laughably interesting. :)

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Haley's Comet (897242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27539737)

Actually, Stanford Research Institute [answers.com] . First marketed by Xerox [ibibo.com] It wasn't Apple -or- Microsoft!

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534861)

Damn, besides of being an Apple Fanboi, he is also a moron that feeds the trolls...
Listen, momma's basement fag! 7% of the computers worldwide market is a good "conversion" rate?
PCs with M$ Windows still control more than 90% of the damn market, so you are a pathetic nano-loser screaming out of your useless ridiculous life inside of your fantasy WoW world!
So, shut your pathetic geek mouth up, before I make you eat your teeth as I used to do at middle-school.
Microsoft is cool, because it was built by the jocks and the hip-hop crowd to beat the ass of pathetic apple/linux geeks like you.
Warren Buffet, a guy that is richer than all you ridiculous fagot geeks together, said that the Apple/Linux geeks with their fancy graphics are the ones guilty of the world economic crisis. So, YOU, and all of you, MUST pay with your lives.
I promise to unload my .45 on the head of the first pathetic geek I find on the street today.
This is my duty as an American and a Patriot!
Death to the Apple geeks! America will stand free!

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535439)

I don't agree with the OP, but you might want to learn some vocabulary and conversational skills before you spout off again. The only person who looks pathetic here is you, junior.

That being said, your mother is a whore.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537097)

Death to the Apple geeks! America will stand free!

Ballmer? Is that you?

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

compatibles (1344133) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537611)

So you finally had to stop beating up middle school kids? No wonder you're so mad.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (2, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535709)

NanoTouch? Can Microsoft at least come up with their OWN names for this thing? Why not iPhoneWannabe if they're going to be that blatant?

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

theaceoffire (1053556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538261)

Just be glad they didn't call it the "MyPhone"

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Phoghat (1288088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27540769)

(http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/japanfan/ad59/)

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (2, Informative)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534453)

I'm not sure what point you were trying to making linking the the Wikipedia article on thumbs. This technology allows for a PDA that can be used without a stylus and without your thumb getting in the way of the screen. I think this is great, as I often miss the button I intended to hit when using my thumb rather than the stylus on my smartphone. I am somewhat disinclined to believe that an index finger is dextrous enough to cover the whole screen of a typical modern PDA, though.

As for Codex, it's not a DS with an accelerometer. It's a DS with a position sensor in the hinge, and (apparently) the ability to turn both screens to the outside. Tablet PC on table - hinge at 105 degrees, screens to the inside; book on table - hinge at 180 degrees; battleship mode - hinge at 0 degrees, screens to the outside. I'm not sure how you think that even a simple program would have trouble distinguishing between these.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534643)

I'm not sure what point you were trying to making linking the the Wikipedia article on thumbs.

Circle back to the previous paragraph where I mentioned the problems of using this device with one hand. Opposable thumbs allow humans to manipulate small keyboards and touchscreens efficiently with one hand while the device sits firmly in the palm. Which is an important aspect of small device operation.

The nanoTouch requires a less secure hold. One that would make one-handed operation difficult and may lead to the device getting dropped with alarming regularity.

Regular touchscreens can still provide the needed dexterity with two hands. Humans are quite adept at using the index finger in a precise manner and without nearly as much obstruction as the use of the thumb.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (2, Interesting)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534755)

You didn't make your point very clear in your first paragraph - it sounded like you were just saying "using this thing one-handed is going to be a pain in the ass and I think people will drop it all the time", which is something that happens frequently with PDAs in those environments today (mostly because people are holding onto railings/poles with their elbow and attempting to use the PDA with the stylus). Now that I know that your issue with it is that you think it will be harder to hold onto, thus making the dropping problem worse; I agree with you on that point. Actually, allowing (but not forcing) a pointer controlled with a small trackball like is used on Blackberries might solve the "hard to use one handed because thumbs are wide" issue just as well and without requiring a looser grip on the device.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534887)

Actually, allowing (but not forcing) a pointer controlled with a small trackball like is used on Blackberries might solve the "hard to use one handed because thumbs are wide" issue just as well and without requiring a looser grip on the device.

Very interesting idea! I agree that could be a very useful combination.

However, it does raise one question: Is screen blocking enough of an issue to users where they feel they need an alternative method of input? My gut says 'no'. Which raises the further question of where this research is intended to take us?

It's not that Microsoft doesn't have some neat ideas here, but they really are dead-end branches of today's technology rather than looking forward to tomorrow. :-)

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

mjeffers (61490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535291)

By moving the interaction with your finger to the back they can get a much smaller device or allow for controls where you might not want to have controls blocked by fingers because of the application.

I've tried a couple of video games for the iPod touch. A few of the racing games I've played have this problem, you put controls on the screen and you all of a sudden have me playing in landscape mode with both thumbs on top of the device but I've covered both the corners of the screen and the buttons I'm trying to press. You either have to limit your number of controls to, say, one per corner so I don't have to worry about not being about covering them, or make really big controls so your finger doesnt block them. Moving the touch interface to the back would let me keep most of the screen visible while interacting with more buttons or smaller buttons on a smaller form-factor device. In situations where you'll be using it one-handed (phone) this may not be as useful. For mobile gaming or other situations where you'll already be using 2 hands, this could help.

trackball on the back? (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537913)

I'm still working this over in my mind ...

The problem with fingering the backside (:-/ Can't think of any really polite way to put that.) is that the index finger will mess up the gripping forces of the other fingers as it ranges around the device.

A trackball on the center of the back would avoid the ranging problem, although you then lose the ability to jump from one place on the screen to another. (My imagination is now telling me this is going to end up feeling like those stupid nipple-in-keyboard pointer devices that basically assume that the user will mostly navigate with command keys and use the pointer device every now and then to bump the pointer.)

Clicking is going to be awkward, even with a trackball in the center of the back.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Dorkmunder (950796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534515)

Huh, first you pick apart their technology (rightly or wrongly) and then say "I can guarantee that Microsoft won't build the devices. Innovation has never been their strong suit." If I believe your assessment of the technology then they definitely would build them as they aren't innovative at all. So, which is it then?

Siftables (was:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century) (1)

wiggles (30088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534653)

I took a look at that video, and while nifty, I could see no practical purpose beyond a child's toy for those, and an incredibly expensive one at that. There's no way, with existing manufacturing efficiencies and raw material costs, you could get those down to under $100 per block - way too pricey for any toddler who's just going to kill it. Get them below $10 a block and they become a viable toy. Those will take off if and only if somebody figures out how to make money using them, not just occupying their children.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

Bobby Mahoney (1005759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535051)

Of course they don't plan on building it... This is just setting up some of the groundwork for the eventual i/p lawsuits which will happen once somebody actually does start building it.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535495)

And why couldn't nanoTouch be used with one hand? Thumb and middle finger grasp tiny device. Index finger operates the interface. I think it would be very much simpler then one handed use of an Iphone. Great idea by MS researchers.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535807)

humb and middle finger grasp tiny device. Index finger operates the interface.

Try holding your hand with your thumb and middle finger apart and the inside of your extended index finger facing you. Feel that pressure on your wrist? That's not going to be a very comfortable or stable grip. More likely you'd try to use your index and thumb to grasp the unit while your middle finger slides across the interface. Not as effective, but infinitely more comfortable.

Whenever you're looking at a control interface, you always need to look at the way pressures are applied. When you tap with your thumb, the force of that tap is safely absorbed by your palm. Rebound is a non-issue.

With this device, you're using force from the top and bottom to brace against a lateral shearing force applied to the back of the unit. This creates a situation where you are fighting against yourself. Your bracing fingers will eventually grow tired and one of two things will inevitably happen:

1. You will lose your grip and press the unit out of your grasp.

2. In an attempt to better brace the unit, you will slide your fingers to cover the front panel slightly. Now you are pinching the unit between your finger in the back and fingers in the front. This is a precarious hold. If the unit moves off center, you will drop it. If you press and release quickly (e.g. a tap), you might lose it when it rebounds.

Basically, the ergonomics of this are designed for two hands. Which does not gel with the requirements of most portable devices.

Such mistakes in ergonomics are common throughout history. Atari and Coleco, for example, didn't understand how a handheld joystick caused insane amounts of torque, making them difficult to use. Atari actually made the problem worse with the 7800. The joysticks had thin bodies that were not braced against torque and long necks that increased torque! Is there any wonder why the market followed Nintendo's lead and deployed the more ergonomic and stable gamepad?

shorter critique (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538025)

Reach for a corner.

If you can't see what's going to happen in your mind, pull out a credit card or something and actually do it. Try the gestures for moving the pointer, selecting, clicking.

Compare this in your mind with having a trackball in the center of the back of the screen.

Microsoft's "research" always misses or ignores details that become obvious on a walk through or an unbiased test of a prototype. They are always implementing the stuff that smarter people know enough to leave alone.

Sometimes that's not a bad thing, but then they go and mass-produce these and the products just clutter the market, clutter the office and home, and then clutter the landfills. Waste customers' money and time, and clog the market so valid products have a hard time competing.

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536197)

I'm sure that will be hugely useful on a bus or train as I'm attempting to hold on to the railing with one hand, and use my device with the other.

So, your complaint about this device is that you can't perform multi-touch commands with one hand while holding the device with the same hand.

You know, at first I thought he was being unfair, but I'm starting to think the AC below is right. If it had an Apple logo, you'd pee yourself like my dog when I scratch his belly. But because you don't like the company that's come up with it, you will invent reasons that it's a terrible idea. (ie: "How am I supposed to use this thing if I'm a blindfolded quadraplegic and dangling upside down from my stump over a roaring bonfire??!? FAIL!")

Re:Gorilla Arm for the 21st Century (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536297)

So, your complaint about this device is that you can't perform multi-touch commands with one hand while holding the device with the same hand.

The way you're using that word? I do not think it means what you think it means.

Slight Error In Summary (4, Funny)

elefantstn (195873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534203)

One was a 'pseudo-transparent' iPhone-like device called nanoTouch, which has a trackpad on the back rather than a traditional touch screen and gives visual feedback in the form of a simulated image of the user's finger (the effect is like looking straight through the device). The other was a folding dual-screen device called Codex that can switch automatically between landscape, portrait, collaborative, or competitive modes depending on its 'posture' or orientation.

The other was not called 'Codex,' but rather 'shuffleClassic.'

Re:Slight Error In Summary (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534255)

They wanted to name it the WiiPlayDualScreen, but Nintendo threatened them with trademarks.

nanoTouch! (2, Funny)

Fast Thick Pants (1081517) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534207)

Sounds like an improvement over last years' disaster, the Microsoft PowerbookNewton.

(Actually looks pretty damn cool.)

noitavonnI (3, Funny)

Chardish (529780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534215)

!tfosorciM ,sknahT !evitiutni yletelpmoc eb ot gniog si ecived eht fo edisrednu eht gnihcuoT

Re:noitavonnI (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534369)

It's not like everything is going to be reversed, this is seeing-through a device, not having it reflected.

Re:noitavonnI (1)

sirkha (1015441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535651)

Frighteningly enough, I have no problem reading that what so ever.

Re:noitavonnI (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537877)

gnitnaw eb lliw noitareneg txen eht tahw yltcaxe si siht

Hmmmmmm (5, Funny)

reidiq (1434945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534229)

This is Microsoft's version of a 'Reach around'

Re:Hmmmmmm (2, Funny)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534559)

This is Microsoft's version of a 'Reach around'

While doing what they so often do to their customers, that's the least they can do!

Re:Hmmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534583)

That might the only thing that could convince me to purchase one of their their crappy OSes.
Actually, even that won't be enough.

Re:Hmmmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534705)

If that's true then this will be the first time they've offered a proper service.

Link to vid (2, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534241)

Here's the vid [google.com] so you don't have to search for it. (Wish folks would link to a vid in TFS).

Looks like Microsoft is actually starting to get serious about research, but I still don't know if this is all that compelling to be a breakthrough worth the effort of such a large corporation - they should be working on something bigger like Google or Apple, and coming out with major innovations every year or two (my opinion)

But, I suppose it's a start. Best of luck to them, I think innovation is great and every company should do more of it.

Re:Link to vid (5, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534371)

Looks like Microsoft is actually starting to get serious about research...

"Starting to"? MSR is one of the biggest single contributors to CS research out there, and has been for a long time.

(Note that MSR is almost entirely distinct from what I typically call MS Corporate, which would include things like product research. Sometimes there will be something that moves from MSR to Corporate, like the SLAM work moving into the Static Driver Verifier, but MSR is still quite autonomous.)

Re:Link to vid (1)

Random BedHead Ed (602081) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534501)

Very true. But while the concept products that Microsoft Research demos at these shows are the products of the future, judging from their track record they always will be. It just like with concept cars: they're the coolest things you've ever seen, and if they were on the market for a reasonable price they'd atomize every competitor. But they never, ever come to market. (Unless I'm mistaken and some of you "Jon Andertons" are typing comments on your living room Microsoft Surface units ...)

Re:Link to vid (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534561)

This is true; from a "does MSR's stuff see the market" point of view, they aren't great. But this is the same with research in general... how much CS research from even the top universities see the light of day in terms of products?

I mean, definitely some does, but not a whole lot. And what does usually takes a LONG time to show up.

Re:Link to vid (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536041)

Why pay 5 figures for a microsoft surface when you can just make one with an eyetoy camera, a sheet of plexiglass, a projector, and an IR filter?

Contributors, yeah (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538073)

but what, exactly do they contribute?

From my point of view, what they contribute is mostly experimenting with and implementing stuff that smarter people have already seen the problems in and set aside.

Exploring blind alleys is not a bad thing, if they could only resist the temptation to try to present them as potential products instead of as demonstrations of why the market should do something else.

And if they could only resist the temptation to actually turn some of their blind-alleys into products, or into permanent features of their products.

Sure, there actually are a lot of moderately cool gadgets in Microsoft's products. But finding the gadget you want and actually using it is so much of a pain that you end up wanting to build a separate gadget, which is really what should have been done in the first place.

Microsoft is a bazaar, but it's a bazaar run by the mob, so to speak.

Re:Contributors, yeah (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538233)

but what, exactly do they contribute?

A fair amount of ground-breaking research. The SLAM project and followup work is what I'm most familiar with, because my own area is in program analysis. It would be fair to call this particular project the first actually workable software model checker. It laid the groundwork for another important project from Berkeley, BLAST, and some followup work from MSR Bangalore, Yogi.

I mean, looking at the PLDI '09 schedule, there are 6 papers co-authored by someone from MSR. Only one is primarily MSR, but another has an MSR person as first author. Looks like POPL '09 had 10 papers with at least one co-author from MSR; 7 with MSR as primary author (and 3 or so with only MSR authors).

The "cool gadgets" face of MSR is a pretty small part of it.

links? (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538751)

Okay, I guess I'll do it for you.

SLAM [microsoft.com]

BLAST [mtc.epfl.ch]

yogi [google.com]

pldi [google.com]

popl [google.com]

Well, Microsoft researchers are involved, to some extent, in some research that is, well, extending some old stuff in ways that might be new. Groundbreaking, maybe, to some people.

Maybe these tools will help generate "correct" code for some definition of correctness. But have these guys defended their choice of definition of "correctness"? Have they shown how it applies to the real world? Is the application field a niche field, or will it help with OSses and general end-user applications?
But, to me, it just seems to be heading the wrong direction. I've been there. All I could find down those paths is more of the same blind alleys. Maybe they'll find something interesting, if so, good for them.

Does it really help solve the problems were are facing in the current market? How does it help users solve their junk e-mail problems? How does it clean up the botnets? How does it prevent users from clicking OK and adding to the botfarms?

How does it give users safe, secure, _minimal_ browsers for checking their bank accounts and making payments for purchases?

Research is all well and good, but this is not what the market needs now.

Re:links? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27540093)

Maybe these tools will help generate "correct" code for some definition of correctness. But have these guys defended their choice of definition of "correctness"?

A little bit. There are two bits of how they would need to justify it: is it guaranteed to make sense, and how complete/useful it is.

The first bit is easy: the sorts of things they check for are the sorts of things that cause program or system crashes, or other clear failures. A null pointer dereference is almost always an error. Trying to lock an already-locked mutex is always an error if it's not designed to allow that. In a device driver, making a potentially-blocking function call while interrupts are disabled is always an error. (This is true on both Linux and Windows.)

The second bit, showing that proving a program is free of these errors is useful, is a little harder, because there's no program- or driver-specific behavior they can check. They can't figure out that, for instance, a program would produce incorrect output. If a calculator says that 1+1 is 3, SLAM wouldn't be able to tell you that is wrong. This problem is mitigated somewhat by the fact that SLAM takes as input a specification of the property that you want to prove, so if you DO have an application-specific check you want to make, there's a chance you could express it as something SLAM could check. No guarantee however.

At the same time, how many people around /. do you see complaining about Windows blue screens? Even now that they are relatively rare (I haven't seen one in ages despite running Windows on two computers I use regularly), crashes still spur complaints. So I would argue that yes, the definition of "correctness" they use IS useful in its own right.

And I wouldn't be alone; this is basically the current state of program analysis. Proving that a program actually does what it is supposed to is generally seen as out of reach, at least for now. (I would argue that it will be in the future too. For most programs, specifying what it means for a program to actually do what it is supposed to would require a specification on the same complexity order as the code itself. What's a formula that describes what Word is supposed to do? Or Emacs? Or Firefox?) There are tons and tons of papers out there that use some measure of correctness comparable to what the SLAM project used. One example that comes to mind is some stuff on concolic execution that came out of Lucent Labs and UIUC (Dart [berkeley.edu] and the followup work Cute [uiuc.edu] ) that uses a definition of correct that includes things like null-pointer dereferences, divisions by zero, or the program reaching an assert statement. Again, there's no application-specific behavior that it knows about (unless you encode it in the program itself in an assert; presumably SLAM could pick this up too). But there are many other examples.

Is the application field a niche field, or will it help with OSses and general end-user applications?

How much it will help is still up in the air. Right now all of the verification methods out there are limited to very small programs. (This is the primary reason that the SLAM project targeted device drivers -- they tend to be very small.) So you won't be able to verify the whole OS any time soon, and you won't be able to verify anything but the smallest utilities.

But today's techniques actually DO work on device drivers. SLAM has been packaged up with the Driver Development Kit starting a bit over 2 years ago, and IIRC MS has added it to the WHQL driver certification process. I have no idea how much it actually helps in practice though. (It certainly has the potential to; most of Windows crashes are caused by third-party drivers.)

(There are other program analysis techniques that DO scale to large (millions of lines) programs. However, they are neither sound nor complete, so they aren't guaranteed to catch every bug and can also return lots of false positives that aren't bugs. These techniques are often called "lightweight formal methods", and the most famous example is probably Coverity's Prevent. Two others are Grammatech's CodeSonar and Klocwork. There is some research going on in these methods, but I don't think MSR is involved.)

Further in the future, I don't know what will happen. Perhaps the ideas that people are hatching out now will lay the foundation for future techniques that scale to full-size programs, or perhaps that's just too hard of a problem.

Does it really help solve the problems were are facing in the current market? How does it help users solve their junk e-mail problems? How does it clean up the botnets? How does it prevent users from clicking OK and adding to the botfarms?

That's up to you to decide. Are system crashes a big enough problem that a decrease in the number of kernel panics will help? Then very likely yes.

You could even argue that it could help with botnets over the longer term, as verification techniques like what have spun out of SLAM could help with buffer overruns and other errors that have commonly led to security vulnerabilities. (I'm not actually sure whether SLAM/BLAST/etc. could deal with that, but it's certainly conceivable.) This might be a bit of a stretch, and is definitely a little optimistic, but it's not unsupportable either.

(As for the user clicking on OK, I don't think you'll ever get past that through technical means in a way that still preserves much freedom of what you do on your PC.)

How does it give users safe, secure, _minimal_ browsers for checking their bank accounts and making payments for purchases?

Of course it doesn't. (Other research is working on that problem; the one I know of, since one of the authors gave a talk at my school, is the OP web browser [uiuc.edu] project at UIUC (paper in Oakland security conference, which by my understanding is a top-tier security conference). MSR has a project called Gazelle [microsoft.com] that sounds a little similar from the abstract; they don't seem to have anything published though outside of a TR, so it's quite possible they were scooped by the UIUC guys.)

Research is all well and good, but this is not what the market needs now.

I of course have a biased opinion, but I'd say it's exactly what the market needs now. You spent a little bit of time asking how SLAM is going to help with the botnet problem, but I can almost guarantee it has a better chance of helping with that problem than taking the resources that are going into basic research and putting them elsewhere.

Re:links? (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27546053)

So, groundbreaking in some minor ways, but really just a continuing in the same efforts at formal proofs which have been going on for thirty or forty years now.

Perhaps they are groundbreaking in that they can be applied to MSWindows 7, whereas the previous methods were more taylored to previous MS OSses (or to other OSses).

Yes, you understand the fundamental problem in proof. If we can prove the program's correctness, we can program it correctly, but we still (after all these years) don't know how to define the correct solution to most of the problems we are writing programs to solve, including all of the most interesting problems.

Writing the programs is part of the math we are doing in our attempts to solve these problems. Necessarily, we are going to run down a lot of blind alleys as we go trimming leafs of the solution tree, so to speak. Sometimes, entire systems have to be lopped off when we backtrack.

And we need to learn to quit hanging on to those dead-end systems, or to turn them over to those who find more value in them than we do.

*** This is actually the whole point in free and open systems, one man's dead end is another man's current valuable solution. ***

What would really be ground-breaking for Microsoft to research would be this --

First, they must make a license comparable to Apple's Public License version 2 and start moving everything under it. Even though Microsoft can't feasibly put everything under the GPL or a BSD-style license, they can start pushing what they have towards open access.

Microsoft's resources were built in cooperation with a lot of people under a tacit bazaar, and the company is not showing any appreciation of where their value came from. They are killing the goose that laid the golden egg by trying to close things off, and they need to quit that, and promise not to try it again. Otherwise, they are doomed to become an ivory tower permanently.

Maybe you're wondering what this has to do with research, and with fixing the problems, so I'll tell you.

It requires a lot of technical expertise to extract technology from closed licenses. That's why I'm saying Microsoft's research branch must be an essential part of it.

The reason it has to be done, well, like you admit, correctness is impossible to prove unless you already know what is correct.

Figuring out what is correct requires the application of an external point of view. (That's a big part of what we mean when we take about "many eyes".)

Correctness is highly context dependent. Which means, you might get a word processor that is perfect for Microsoft's internal use, but when you take it to a customer, that customer finds all sorts of bugs. (We've seen this this before, right?)

This is not just a problem of design and implementation. The fixes for some of those bugs, relative to customer A, turn out to be bugs by definition for customer B. Maybe you can find a compromise fix for customer A and B, but then that conflicts with Microsoft internal and with the requirements of customers C, D, and X.

Some bugs cannot be fixed without customization, and customization requires opening things up on some level.

There's another thing Microsoft could research, well, several things --

A database, or several databases that would define contexts in which various customizations can be applied. (Huge research there.) Then you could seriously streamline MSOffice and other products, including their OS, and let the customer dig up the add-on modules they need.

(Monetizing the selection of modules is a temptation that must be avoided, which is one problem with most of the current crop of networked application frameworks. Charging per module kills the whole thing. That's another place where research could be useful.)

They need a system for determining which modules can be loaded compatibly with which. That would be re-inventing what the Linux community has several versions of already, but that's okay. The system, of course, needs to be open to the end-users.

Lots of that kind of stuff to research.

Then there are special purpose browsers. The only we to control the malware problem and bring it back down to a manageable level (less than 20%) is to make special purpose browsers that work together, running sandboxed under captive (jailed) users.

Financial browsers really should be on entirely separate devices, using hand-entered transaction codes to connect the money with the order, and I would rather Microsoft keep their hands out of that, at least until they demonstrate that they understand why access control lists should not be the basic security device or model.

There's another thing they should research -- they need to research the inherent holes in using access control lists, and then find a way to bring their software to a model that doesn't depend on them. (Seriously, do you leave your wallet out in the middle of the road with a list of people permitted to touch it, look at it, open it up, etc. taped to it? No. You keep your wallet in your pocket, or, when you're in the shower or sleeping, in a safe, or in a drawer. Don't mention locks and keys, an ACL is not a lock and is not box full of keys.)

That's the kind of stuff I would call groundbreaking. It's also the kind of research that would bring the complexity of applications closer to a level where formal proofs could actually be meaningful.

Re:links? (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27546681)

So, groundbreaking in some minor ways, but really just a continuing in the same efforts at formal proofs which have been going on for thirty or forty years now.

All research continues something that came before. "If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants" and all that. If you want to argue about the meaning of groundbreaking, whatever, but it's as groundbreaking as anything in software formal methods in the last couple decades.

Perhaps they are groundbreaking in that they can be applied to MSWindows 7, whereas the previous methods were more taylored to previous MS OSses (or to other OSses).

The methods they describe aren't tailored to ANY MS OS, though the implementation is. SLAM was groundbreaking because there wasn't anything that did anything even somewhat close to what it did, for any system ever.

I don't really have time to address the rest of your post now; it's late. I may get back to it tomorrow.

Re:Link to vid (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538855)

"Starting to"? MSR is one of the biggest single contributors to CS research out there, and has been for a long time.

This is called "sucking the air out of the room," and is one of Microsoft's main strategies. They keep as many CS profs on their dole as possible, so that there are fewer who dare criticize MS.

This is what they did for their US antitrust case - they hired tons of law firms for little bits of work, especially any with antitrust experience, so that conflict-of-interest rules prevented them from working for the government on the antitrust case.

This is what they did with shelf-space -they bought up (or rented) all of the prime shelf space in main computer retailers, so that there was no "good" shelf space left for competitors' products. People assume retailers put their best stuff on the most prominent displays, so competitors were shut out.

It is the same with CS research sponsorship. They want to have a club to threaten errant profs/universities with, in case they criticize.

Re:Link to vid (2, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534629)

Here's the vid [google.com] so you don't have to search for it. (Wish folks would link to a vid in TFS). Looks like Microsoft is actually starting to get serious about research, but I still don't know if this is all that compelling to be a breakthrough worth the effort of such a large corporation - they should be working on something bigger like Google or Apple, and coming out with major innovations every year or two (my opinion) But, I suppose it's a start. Best of luck to them, I think innovation is great and every company should do more of it.

I'm deliberately speaking in very general terms here. Incremental improvements are also a good thing, and in fact I would expect large behemoth corporations to try to "play it safe" by doing it this way instead of trying too many radically new things that might be a complete flop. It's really the smaller, more "nimble" corporations that seem to be more willing to go for the breakthroughs and radically new ideas, even though for them the success of such things can mean the difference between liquidity and bankruptcy.

The other comment by EvanED in this thread is spot on. I do not like Microsoft and I have plenty of solid reasons to criticise them. Having said that, their research division is one thing they got right. The kind of autonomy afforded them, combined with the immense cash reserves of a company like MS, has indeed produced some useful things. I only wish that the design and functionality of the operating system were similarly de-coupled from marketing, at least to a greater degree than the current arrangement.

big (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538329)

I don't think I can really agree.

The fact that big companies can't be nimble seems to me to be the primary reason big companies should not exist. Or, if they must exist, they should not have research departments pretending to work on leading edge.

The research I would like to see from Microsoft would be actual introspection. There actually is stuff _in_ their products that could be usefully extracted and used, outside of their products, if you could only find it, if you could only use it without using MSOffice's truly baroque framework, if you could only examine it for ideas, if you could only modify for your own stuff.

Sure, there is MSDN, but you have to buy MSDN, both with your money and with your mind. Once you've bought into the Microsoft way enough to be able to get around in MSDN, you've forgotten what it was that made you and/or your company unique.

MSOffice automates like Microsoft thinks Microsoft should automate. Not every in the world wants to do it that way.

Re:big (1)

causality (777677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27542463)

Well, there IS a reason why I have been using Linux for over 11 years and have no Microsoft software on my own computer. That's because I don't like doing things the Microsoft way and I especially don't like the lack of freedom as compared to a GPL solution. Like I said, I don't like Microsoft and I have plenty of good reasons for why I feel that way. Your comment about not allowing companies to get that large was also interesting. The only problem is that I can't think of a cure for that which isn't also worse than the disease.

cures, yeah (1)

reiisi (1211052) | more than 5 years ago | (#27545143)

The constitution and the law specified a cure that went about as far as we dare.

The courts dropped the ball.

This idea that a judge who admits in public to having a personal opinion should automatically be recused is stupid. They have opinions. Admitting the opinion is better than hiding it. The issue is whether the opinion is biasing, and, in this case, even though the opinion was strong, it was not out of keeping with the facts presented.

I'm almost unwilling to assume that money did not exchange hands, or that some form of illegal pressure was not applied, to force the change of judges.

The courts dropped the ball, so the cure didn't work. If I could afford the lawyer, I'd be pushing to re-examine all of that.

Anyway, yeah, making new laws would do more damage than good.

Re:Link to vid (1)

Ironica (124657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534665)

Here's the vid [google.com] so you don't have to search for it. (Wish folks would link to a vid in TFS).

Ironic that your link to a vid "so we don't have to search for it" is just a search output, where the product under discussion here is the very bottom link (everything before it is about the iPod Nano and iPod Touch). Oh, and that link isn't actually a video, just a static image.

Next time, just go for the humor value and use Let me Google That For You [lmgtfy.com] , ok? (Hey, first hit is about the actual device, how about that!)

Re:Link to vid (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534749)

Link works for me.

Re:Link to vid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534891)

Holy hell, how do you manage to fail at clicking a link and playing a video?

Are you new here?

Re:Link to vid (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535701)

If you think the link:

video.google.com/videosearch?oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=nanotouch&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wv#oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wv&q=nano+touch

is an image, you need to retake your browser 101 class dude.

Re:Link to vid (1)

Ironica (124657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536181)

If you think the link:

video.google.com/videosearch?oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&q=nanotouch&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wv#oe=UTF-8&sourceid=navclient&gfns=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wv&q=nano+touch

is an image, you need to retake your browser 101 class dude.

If you think that naming a subdomain "video" automatically means moving pictures, I can't help you there.

FTR, this [boondock.org] is what I get from clicking on the above link. See the address bar in the screen cap if you're still confused. Glad it works for some people, but clearly not compatible with Chrome 1.0.154.53 on WinXP Pro SP3.

Re:Link to vid (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535075)

Microsoft Research is a big contributor to CS research. However, Microsoft as a company has a very strong aversion to actually producing its own hardware. With the expensive XBox fiascos and the less than stellar Zune it is easy to see why. So research that doesn't involve making a bog standard PC cooler simply doesn't see the light of day.

Microsoft's modus operandi when it comes to experimental devices is to do a prototype and then hope that someone else will actually engineer, build, develop, and market the device and then simply pay them to use its software. This allows Microsoft to control the new market (so that it feeds into the network effects that keep Windows on most desktops) without having to take the risks associated with creating a new hardware market.

The problem with this strategy is that more and more of the hardware companies that used to use Microsoft's software for new devices are looking to other alternatives.

This technology does seem pretty cool, but is it cool enough to make it worth paying money for Windows CE. If I was a hardware manufacturer I would be very skeptical.

Kewl! (0)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534249)

But does it run SnowLeopard?

Geez, at least pick a different name (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534283)

nanoTouch? Seriously?

Re:Geez, at least pick a different name (1)

KBlommel (1165263) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534475)

They're seriously copying Apple with that name. All they've done is combined two iPod names and BAM, the nanoTouch is born!

Re:Geez, at least pick a different name (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534939)

If apple insists on using basic words like nano and Touch in their product names can we let it go when they come up in other company product names? iPod is distinct enough but Touch? That's a verb. Let's face it the company is named after a fruit. You can't Trademark the name of a fruit. I'm just tired of everytime anything that comes out that looks vaguely similar to an apple product or has a similar name everyone always claims they are copying Apple. not everything revolves around them even if they would like to believ that.

Finger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534327)

Okay, I guess that's what it is.

I'm just imagining what will happen once people start to "customize" it.

Patents (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534363)

If Microsoft doesn't build such devices itself, 'somebody else will, so it's really important to understand what the issues are,'

In other words, even if they don't have the inclination to develop products in this area, they'd like a slice of the pie if someone tries to later.

Cyberdyne (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534423)

Cyberdyne Corporation...

It just had to be produced by Cyberdyne Corporation

Coming soon... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534461)

The clear screen of death.

Will OEM's Bite???? (1, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534507)

Microsoft has a long history of aggressively promoting some scheme and then watching it fail and screwing the OEM's all at the same time.

Tablet PC's come to mind as a very expensive failure for OEM's. Another failure, PlaysForSure was a not-so-recent major FU to hardware manufacturers, branding businesses.

Why, when they've been repeatedly burned by Microsoft, will they invest in these non-new failures?

For geeks sake... (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534723)

"...If Microsoft doesn't build such devices itself, somebody else will, so it's really important to understand what the issues are"

Is it just me, or are vendors lately simply trying to outgeek each other rather than look for actual purpose and usage discovered through market research? Not every handheld device out there needs to behave like a Wii controller "just because".

Re:For geeks sake... (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534921)

Is it just me, or are vendors lately simply trying to outgeek each other rather than look for actual purpose and usage discovered through market research?

"Lately"? I don't recall it ever being any different. See: Sturgeon's Law. ;-)

Backfacing Touchpad prior art (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27534751)

13 years ago Ratio Design Labs built a Motorola M.A.X. tech demo that used a back-facing touchpad for a pager interface. The only thing MS added is a finger instead of the pointer indicator.

Re:Backfacing Touchpad prior art (1)

LMacG (118321) | more than 5 years ago | (#27534995)

So what you're saying is that Microsoft is giving us the finger?

Re:Backfacing Touchpad prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535943)

>simulated image of the user's finger

That's no finger.... it's a space penis!

Not only that, it's a dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535033)

This story, or something quite similar has been on /. before. Microsoft has been toying with simulated fingers for some time now. I just hope the guys at 4chan won't figure out how to skin it.

MIGHT WANT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27535219)

Fingers? Who wants to see their ugly fingers all over the screen?
What a seriously imprecise pointer.
Just give me a point in the center of contact, please.

I really do like the small device.
I'd say it is probably too small, though.
Something PSP-sized would be better.
Now you can hold it on the short sides and have a nice long screen to interact with.
Even better if both sides were touchscreens. (can you imagine how horrible it would be to type from the back?)

Also, i'm just wondering here, aren't screens already slightly transparent as it is?
I've seen people mount cameras onto the back of screens to look through for a touchscreen before. (think it was MS Researchers actually, actually, it might have been IR sensors)

An image of whose finger? (1)

tirnacopu (732831) | more than 5 years ago | (#27535521)

It would be friggin' weird for a well-built black dude to show some interesting animation on his Zune Nano-Touch 3 as it follows a polished pink fingernail. Maybe this will have presets, and show up as an option in the Control Panel, with some very hard to answer questions like "on a scale from Michael Jackson to Jabba the Hut, how much of an Asian woman's manicure would you say you possess?"

Where do MS research get everything from? (1)

pesc (147035) | more than 5 years ago | (#27536595)

Maybe here [macrumors.com] ?
Or here [macrumors.com] ?

Patent (1)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27537447)

If Microsoft doesn't build such devices itself, 'somebody else will, so it's really important to patent the idea now,'

There, fixed that for you, Microsoft.

Makes perfect sense (1)

tellthepeople (1451199) | more than 5 years ago | (#27538179)

Why look at my finger when I can buy a $200 gadget that shows me a simulated finger when I touch the back. And sure I might want to look at my but why carry around a piece of glass when aforementioned tech' is available.

Sorry it's just such an easy target. Why have transparency when you can have simulated transparency?

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