Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Giving Touch-Screen Buttons Depth and Height With Pneumatics

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the wait-for-pneumatic-spam dept.

Input Devices 146

blee37 writes "Researchers at Carnegie Mellon demonstrate 'popping out' touch screen buttons to become physical buttons using pneumatics. The idea is to combine the dynamic reconfigurability of touch screen buttons with the tactile feedback of real buttons. The technology could be applied where tactile feedback is currently lacking, such as in car navigation systems, ATMs, or cell phones."

cancel ×

146 comments

Oh no... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214840)

This is a BAD idea for in-car SatNav/GPS.

Anything that might make drivers think they can set/adjust something by reaching and groping when they should be concentrating on driving will cause accidents.

Re:Oh no... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214910)

As opposed to having to stare at the device.... yeah, much worse

ONE WORD: (3, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215176)

"Nipples"

Re:ONE WORD: (2, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215276)

If you're that excited by the idea of simulated nipples, there are already numerous options [wikipedia.org] out there to satisfy you.

Re:ONE WORD: (1)

cashX3r0 (1588469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215378)

if the buttons weren't locked into position, and could move accordingly on the screen--and maybe even during video, then phone porn would increase exponentially.

Re:ONE WORD: (4, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215802)

"Nipples"

Quote [me.com] :"PhotoelasticTouch is a tabletop system designed to facilitate touch-based interaction with real objects made from transparent elastic material. The elastic material provides a realistic haptic interface, which when combined with the visual content displayed on the LCD tabletop, enables a coupling of the physical world and digital content. The system utilizes the photoelastic properties of transparent rubber to detect when a user pushes, pulls, or pinches the object, while the LCD provides appropriate visual feedback in accordance with the stress applied to the rubber."

Well.

CC.

Re:ONE WORD: (2)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215876)

I musician I knew loved the Nord Lead II synth because the knobs felt like "Nipples."

Re:Oh no... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214912)

Like... a shifter?

Re:Oh no... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215826)

Most people really don't really seem to be able to deal with those anymore.

Re:Oh no... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216080)

I'm man enough to let a machine shift my gears for me.

Re:Oh no... (2, Funny)

Forge (2456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215086)

It will be great for people who can't drive. Like the blind or those with limited vision.

Re:Oh no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215426)

It will be great for people who can't drive. Like the blind or those with limited vision.

Are people who can't drive really demanding that in-carnav systems provide more tactile feedback on the touchscreen?

Re:Oh no... (2, Funny)

rrhal (88665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215490)

I'm pretty sure the guy in front of me on the 520 bridge this morning was blind or of limited vision. He had his head up his ass and he sure as hell couldn't drive. Perhaps a tactile feed back GPS would help him - it wouldn't hurt.

Re:Oh no... (1)

KneelBeforeZod (1527235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215442)

exactly! I'd say more research is required so we can give the blind more access to info tech.

Re:Oh no... (1)

royler (1270778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215794)

i strongly agree, having an iphone has completely killed the option of texting while driving and im safer for that.

Re:Oh no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215944)

I think the gradual lesson for cars is that we should limit their speeds to around 70kph and make them electric. At low enough speeds and light enough vehicles, the risks are much easier to manage. If you need to get somewhere faster or longer distance than such a vehicle can manage, trains can do that.

As for touch screens, they are popular because they seem futuristic. They will eventually be seen similar to parachute pants ("it seemed like a good idea at the time").

Re:Oh no... (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215980)

It's also a dupe. [slashdot.org]

Re:Oh no... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216148)

But it’s great for natural selection! Just stay off the roads for some weeks (don’t forget friends and family), and let nature do its thing. :D

Hmm. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214856)

Yet when I want to touch little girls with my pneumatic rod I am labeled a "pedophile".

"a$$ and tittiez!" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214890)

So porn sites will be able to have interactive women in 3-d on touchscreens? SWEET!

pistons! (3, Funny)

cashX3r0 (1588469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214902)

so there are pistons within the cell phone of the future? batteries don't stand a chance. and then you have to oil your phone.

Er (5, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214918)

Touch screens are nice because they can be programmed to display whatever controls you wish, but isn't the lack of moving parts another advantage? This seems like it would have MTBF issues.

Re:Er (0, Offtopic)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215156)

Hey look, the everyone's-a-troll mods got some points today.

Re:Er (2, Informative)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215304)

Personally, I like having tactile feedback when i press buttons - and the lack of it has kept me away from a pure touchscreen device. I bought a HTC Dream instead of an iPhone for this reason (and the fact I'm not a massive Apple fanboy)

Re:Er (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215702)

HTC Hero (pureish touchscreen) has tactile feedback when you press a button in the form of vibration, I find this very nice, gives me a clue about the phone registering my press and I can go on to the next one - it does however, not, help me find the button I want without looking.

Re:Er (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216354)

What's your weight got to do with it?

Ba-dum pshh.

Re:Er (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216460)

I get that- I wouldn't want to type all day on a touch keyboard, for example- but I find audio clues, like a click, to be almost as good with a display you only need to deal with on occasion. It's a tradeoff.

Re:Er (2, Informative)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215460)

What moving parts? Did you even bother to read the article? The screen just has a bunch of air pockets inside that react to positive or negative pressure changes within the screen.

Re:Er (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215582)

Wow you're stupid. They move. Moving parts. Just because it isn't a gear doesn't mean it's immobile.

Re:Er (1)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215842)

When someone says that a piece of electronics has "moving parts" it is used to mean things like mechanical parts that move. This air pocket is not a mechanical piece that moves and hence doesn't fall under the traditional meaning of the word.

Re:Er (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216218)

When someone says that a piece of electronics has "moving parts" it is used to mean things like mechanical parts that move. This air pocket is not a mechanical piece that moves and hence doesn't fall under the traditional meaning of the word.

Your definition is an odd one.

If it isn't static, it is moving. If it is moving, it is generating stresses. Those stresses *might* be negligible, they *might* be significant. One thing is certain: In almost every situation, introducing into a system any additional components will negatively impact the MTBF of the entire system.

The important thing to determine, is how each component fails. Will the failure cascade? Will it continue to function but in a degraded state? Is the degraded state acceptable? Does the failure of one component place additional stresses on other components?

Re:Er (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216500)

No, *you* read that into I said. Chill out a bit. We're not debating abortion.

Re:Er (1)

cashX3r0 (1588469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216502)

WARNING: This balloon may or may not have moving parts.

Re:Er (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215596)

yeah, that's a moving part. Because it moves.

Re:Er (2, Informative)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215874)

"An air chamber behind the backing can be pressurized or depressurized using pneumatic technology, in this case fan-based pumps."

Fans generally move.

Re:Er (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216318)

And are very noisy. Imagine having the a Dustbuster's vacuum pump behind your dashboard, attached to a hundred yards of very thin hose.

I recall Tim Hunkin once building something like this with a rubber membrane covering a pattern of holes, and when you turned the vacuum on the membrane over the holes would depress making little ghost paw-prints in the rubber. It was noisy as hell.

Re:Er (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216278)

It always depends on if it’s worth it. I think you can do pneumatics entierly without moving parts. Or if you have to, one single part. (I don't count the moving surface as a part.

On the other hand, the buttons on all old phones and the buttons that you used to type your comment, are moving parts. You don't see them falling apart, do you?

At least not until you replace them by something better anyway.

So all in all, oh yeah, I think it is worth a ton to finally have a real touch-typable keyboard, that you can also make into a dashboard with a big red button that says *nuke* for your next mech game. :D

Re:Er (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216364)

Another thing that's nice about touchscreens is that the relative sizes of various buttons can change on the fly. The iPhone virtual keyboard dynamically resizes the area of different letters depending on what letter proceeded it. For example, if you just typed the letter 'c', the next letter you want is much more likely to be 'a' than 'z', so the 'a' button area becomes larger and the 'z' gets smaller. It doesn't change the visual size of the button on screen, because that would undoubtedly be quite annoying, but the target area for more likely letters expands.

SO COOL... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214926)

I think I speak for everyone on this site when I say that this is REALLY COOL. I kind of want to go work on making a dynamic version right now. The technology shown here is cool but the concept of a dynamic surface that can re-shape is a great one and something that would should work on. Can you imagine how much better your phone/monitor/keypad would be if you could re-shape it as you needed?

Re:SO COOL... (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215212)

What if instead of implanting these kinds of tactile feedback mechanisms in every single device I touch, I were to get programmable implants under the skin of each fingertip? That way the implant could respond to signals being sent from external devices and generate sensations to "fool" my nerves into perceiving depth or some other kind of feedback. If the implants had sufficient resolution, you could even encode other kinds of information in the feedback like the outlines of letters of other symbols. Could be a real productivity enhancer, and it eliminates the need to add complex, energy-consuming parts to hundreds or thousands of smart devices.

Re:SO COOL... (1)

mike.mondy (524326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215340)

You'd really want *anyone* to be able to get under your skin?

Re:SO COOL... (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215466)

First, it's not like I'm ceding control of my heart muscle to an external device, just some sensation in my fingertips.

Second, I assume this would enforce some kind of secure pairing protocol akin to Bluetooth that would eliminate 99.9% of hacking attampts.

Finally, if it enables touch-based feedback, then by definition this is a technology that works at a scale of centimetres or less. If somebody is being a jackass, they are certainly within arms-reach where I can deliver a realtime smack upside the head.

Re:SO COOL... (1)

gerardolm (1137099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216024)

and it eliminates the need to add complex, energy-consuming parts to hundreds or thousands of smart devices.

So, making the devices compatible with this (sending signals to your fingertips) is not complex and energy-consuming? /facepalm

Convergence of smart phone and condoms... (-1, Troll)

Delusion_ (56114) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214928)

...ribbed, for her pleasure.

Why Not... (3, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214968)

Just make buttons that have a touch screen on them, thus you still have the scroll-ability and versatility of a touch screen, combined with the tacticle feedback of buttons when you want things to function like a button...

Or am I completely missing the point?

Re:Why Not... (2, Funny)

cashX3r0 (1588469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215038)

missing the point. the object here is to have balloons in your phone that can fill up and deflate. this way when you let your baby girl play with your phone, she scratches at the 'button' until it pops.

Re:Why Not... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216454)

I'd settle for a bland-looking case that doesn't draw any attention from my offspring whatsoever. Maybe something that says "Brussels sprouts" on the front.

Re:Why Not... (2, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215076)

The assembly of something with 15 buttons using the linked idea would probably be quite a lot cheaper than the assembly of 15 separate buttons, and the electronics to drive it would probably be simpler.

Re:Why Not... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216368)

The idea is to make it possible to *change* the layout! Unless you have single-pixel buttons that are electronically raisable, you can’t do that with buttons.

Imagine a big red button that says *NUKE* and a load of info displays and buttons on a surface that lies in the location of your keyboard, when playing your mech game. (Mechwarrior was famous for needing a mouse, a joystick *and* a keyboard to properly play it. And I *loved* it for the ability to look, move and shoot in 3 different directions! :D)

Re:Why Not... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216466)

Just make buttons that have a touch screen on them, thus you still have the scroll-ability and versatility of a touch screen, combined with the tacticle feedback of buttons when you want things to function like a button...

Heck, we had something like this when I was in the Navy. Buttons that actually contained something like a miniature slide projector* that could display multiple messages. I know these were first used in the 88/0 system which was first deployed in the late 60's, and they may even be older.
 
The Shuttle uses a system where the buttons ring the screen, and each button's function is displayed onscreen next to the button. ISTR the Navy had systems that operated in the same general manner as early as the late 70's. (I didn't work with any of those systems, just saw them at a distance.)
 
Given how small LCD screens are getting now a days, you could do all manner of interesting things.

*You had multiple lamps and a system of films with the messages on them, masks, and 'light pipes' so that only one message/image was displayed when the appropriate light was lit.

Visual feedback (5, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214992)

I assumed I'd have issue with the touch keyboard on the iPhone. However, when I press a key, that key is highlighted and enlarges. I receive visual feedback of the key I pressed, even if I don't have physical feedback. Yes, it requires I look when I text, but I can't imagine many scenarios where I'd really ever text without looking just because there was some physical feedback.

I'll take the lack of moving parts over the physical feedback, especially given how often I've dropped my phone.

Re:Visual feedback (3, Informative)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215368)

Doesn't the iPhone vibrate slightly when it registers a 'touch'? My Nokia 5800 does that as standard, which is surprisingly useful as feedback. I would be surprised if the iPhone doesn't.

Re:Visual feedback (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215514)

Nope.

Re:Visual feedback (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215544)

Mine doesn't. There may be a setting for that I haven't enabled.

Re:Visual feedback (1)

k3vlar (979024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215720)

If you jailbreak, there are several (paid and free) third party tools that enable this functionality.

Re:Visual feedback (1)

arb phd slp (1144717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216212)

The touch doesn't have vibrate at all and the alleged tablet probably won't either. I wonder if Apple leaves it out for consistency across different devices on the platform.

Re:Visual feedback (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216396)

Yes, it requires I look when I text,

“Getting-the-idea-FAIL”! :D

Re:Visual feedback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216452)

I used to touch-type all the time without looking at the phone - until I started using a phone with a touch screen. You can't imagine many scenarios where you wouldn't be looking at the screen, but it's because it seems clear you haven't used other phones that present this as a plausible scenario. Your signature implies a certain bias as well.

Better idea (1, Interesting)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215006)

Establish a grid of button surfaces, kind of like pixels, which can be dynamically re-grouped to merge them into larger buttons, and then put the display on that.

So, imagine you had a keyboard with essentially no gaps between the keys, and a screen on top of them. You could make one button out of qwe, one button out of tgyh, etc., while displaying your graphics seamlessly.

Or you could just do what ATMs have already been doing for ages, which is have blank buttons beside the screen and add the labels. But nooo, gotta be all fancy-like...

Re:Better idea (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215342)

Or you could just do what ATMs have already been doing for ages, which is have blank buttons beside the screen and add the labels. But nooo, gotta be all fancy-like...

That could take up a lot more space, especially when it's a full keyboard being displayed. Not ideal for mobile devices.

Re:Better idea (1)

amplt1337 (707922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215444)

That could take up a lot more space, especially when it's a full keyboard being displayed. Not ideal for mobile devices.

Well, right. Then again, typing is not ideal for mobile devices. Sure, you can jerry-rig solutions, but none of them work terribly well. (At least, neither Blackberries nor iPhones seem to have the problem well-solved). Probably the best answer for full-size keyboard stuff for mobile devices is some kind of neutral-hand-position bimanual chording keyboard, but that's expensive and intimidating, and requires a lot of learning on the user's part.

Re-post? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215010)

I could swear I read about this on /. several months ago... at the very least, this story is OLD. Looks like some blogger just rehashed it from back in April (link is not /., obviously).

http://www.engadget.com/2009/04/28/carnegie-mellon-morphs-pop-up-buttons-onto-multi-touch-display

Re:Re-post? (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215832)

I am not sure why you were modded troll, you are correct.

Previous article. [slashdot.org]

Pricetag? Reliability? (3, Interesting)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215042)

And what would be the actual pricetag of such a device? I understand that we use more and more electronics to simplify the mechanics behind our devices. Now, with a pump, you need to physically inject air under the screen, so you have moving parts, and they are usually costly... besides, what would be the reliability of such a thing? and could you get a "flat" screen?

Re:Pricetag? Reliability? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215560)

Newest flat screens: now bumpy!

Re:Pricetag? Reliability? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216242)

And what would be the actual pricetag of such a device? I understand that we use more and more electronics to simplify the mechanics behind our devices. Now, with a pump, you need to physically inject air under the screen, so you have moving parts, and they are usually costly... besides, what would be the reliability of such a thing? and could you get a "flat" screen?

Instead of air, Ferrofluids might be a solution.

Having read TFA (5, Funny)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215074)

I am left thinking "so what?". All they did was PROJECT graphics onto an inflatable surface, and used a camera and image recognition to determine which 'button' was being pressed.

I think it's a bit of a stretch to describe this as a 'touch screen'; the image is projected onto the surface (which could be true for ANY surface) and the surface itself does NOT detect touches. There is also no tactile feedback whatsoever. I might as well get one of those laser projection keyboards, set it up on the bonnet of my car and announce that I've made a "self-propelling air-conditioned touchscreen that seats four".

useless at this stage (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215144)

An unavoidable limitation is that the mask itself is static, meaning that new shapes cannot be created dynamically. The technology only allows controlling whether the shapes pop in, pop out, or remain flat.

That makes it useless for all but a few uncommon use cases. But it may be the beginning of something, maybe another team will come up on a way to create a programmable mask.

Re:useless at this stage (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215616)

Not really - since it appears that it can go flat too, a touchscreen keyboard that has actual pop-up keys would be a very good thing to have around.

I question this sort of technology's reliability, but if it's comparable to a normal smartphone it would be a definite step up from the current touchscreen keyboards on the iPhone and others.

Whack-a-mole! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215166)

Whack-a-mole! Now with a digital display and tactile feedback! imagine the possibilities!

Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215172)

Weren't touch-screens the latest rage because.. you didn't have to.. push... buttons?

Re:Why? (1)

HeyBob! (111243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215338)

Nope - they're great because they can be ANY array of buttons, plus whatever else you want to display

Re:Why? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216394)

Weren't touch-screens the latest rage because.. you didn't have to.. push... buttons?

No. They're the 'latest rage' because you can have a simplified and optimized interface that changes based on the application.

Honestly dude, I'm not sure why you even asked that. "This button push is too much!" Seriously, have you not seen the progression of cell phones in the last 5 years?

Electroactive polymers? (2, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215218)

I thought people were already trying to do this sort of thing using electroactive polymers [wikipedia.org] . Certainly there seems to be a couple [freepatentsonline.com] patents [patentstorm.us] on the idea [faqs.org] , not to mention someone who thinks the technology could be used to make braille-capable touchscreens [popsci.com] .

killer app (5, Funny)

jjeffries (17675) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215226)

The killer app for this will of course be a Timex Sinclair 1000 emulator.

Re:killer app (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215594)

The killer app for this will of course be a Timex Sinclair 1000 emulator.

TS-1000 was my first computer. Fortunately, the BASIC keywords were a single key-press so that you didn't have to live with typing a lot, which was otherwise difficult on the membrane keyboard. Each letter had a BASIC keyword next to it on the keyboard and the input prompt was context-sensitive so that it knew whether a key was interpreted as a letter or a keyword.

We'd joke that if the keyboard broke, it would squirt fluid into our eyes and blind us because one had to press some of the keys pretty hard. Also, if you pressed too hard, it would wiggle the RAM expansion pack's connection too much, causing a Grey Screen of Death. You get what you pay for. But I was a kid and so was happy just to have my own computer.

Our stupid toaster-oven has one of those membrane keyboards and it sucks just like the TS-1000's keyboard. My wife tossed the older oven model with real buttons because it was "ugly". But it was a lot easier to control, especially in the morning when the fingers and brain are not fully awake yet. I miss real buttons and sliders. Tactile feel is a nice thing. I hope they succeed.
   

Re:killer app (1)

F34nor (321515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216232)

I still have a microwave with two analogue dials, time and power. It works shockingly well but it is too damn big to fit under the counter.

Is that a pneumatically-inflatable touch screen (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215248)

or are you just happy to see me?

This explains Star Trek (3, Funny)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215256)

and their exploding work stations.

Re:This explains Star Trek (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215712)

This new technology has something that even sparking Trek battles don't have: panels that actually punch you in the face.

Re:This explains Star Trek (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215738)

Actually, the "exploding work stations" comes from computers even more primitive than the real ones in the 1960s. Vacuum tubes consume large amounts of power (a filimant has to be heated, much like an incandescant light bulb), and if you have a physical short (like the first computer bug that was actually a moth that shorted out some wires) you often have a "POP!" and some smoke.

Immersion Corporation (2, Informative)

benmonty (1682150) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215288)

Immersion Corporation is a small technology company that is also providing haptic (touch) feedback for a variety of electronics, including touch screens. They have the technology to make a flat button on a touch screen feel like it is a 3-dimensional button being depressed and it isn't confined to a single configuration. Lg, Samsung, and Nokia already license Immersion's technology and mobile phones with touch feedback are already being sold in Asia. In my opinion, this latex button is a good idea but it won't catch on.

Pneumatics are lame (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215294)

I periodically read about demos of this technology using pneumatics, but it seems like a very limiting way to do it. The article says:

all the buttons must popped in or out at once...new shapes cannot be created dynamically

For this to ever become in general use, we need something pixel-addressable. Seems like something that is piezoelectric or electrostatic is more likely to be successful that pneumatics.

I like the question posed in the article:

When do you think pneumatic technology like this will turn the flat touch screen buttons on our phones into physical buttons?
      1. 2 years
      2. 5 years
      3. 10+ years
      4. Never

Probably never. Had they asked "when will haptic technology turn the flat touch screen buttons..." instead of asking about the specific technology, then the answer would be different.

The other big limitation of any haptics approach is that most touch screen surfaces are glass, for durability. Sitting next to me I have 4 touch screens, each with a different techology: resistive, capacitive, acoustic wave, and acoustic pulse recognition. Each one has advantages and disadvantages, but I don't think any of these screens could be altered to support haptics. Since they are used in restaurants and medical systems, they must be durable and sealed. So there is definitely much more research involved in this other than hacking a cheesy pneumatic system into a touch screen and asking "when will this will take over the world?"

a safer future for your ex (1)

cashX3r0 (1588469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215300)

instead of the cell phone filling the buttons with air, the owner of the phone should have to blow his cell phone up to use it. with a breathalyzer installed in the cell phone, the phone would be disabled from making calls, which would end the "i'm drunk so i'm calling my ex" phenomenon.

Piezoelectric layer (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215346)

Wouldn't it be easier to just add a piezoelectric layer to the screen and add haptic feedback that way?

Re:Piezoelectric layer (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215534)

Shocking people who use their touchscreen in the car might be a good feature, if that means they only mess with it when they really must and spend more time devoted to actual driving!

something about pizza (1)

metamechanical (545566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215364)

I feel like there is some sort of pertinent pizza-based analogy here... something about how when the crust has larger bubbles, it's a more rich and textural experience... I'm not sure though, as pizza-based analogies aren't really my expertise...

Re:something about pizza (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215478)

Yeah, but you seem to be a quick learner.

hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215438)

Sounds like the BlackBerry Storm... but on a whole new level.

Transformer blobs! (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215458)

This reminds me of that bizarre "Transformer blob" video that was reported here some time ago. I dunno if I want my touchscreens morphing on me when I'm not looking!

Backwards? (1)

war4peace (1628283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215538)

So... first they struggled to create touch Screens so they can eliminate buttons altogether, and now they struggle to implement buttons on touch screens? Wow, well thought out!
Although I agree that it would look cool and geeky, I do wonder what's wrong with buttons/keys featuring an OLED screen at the top. I know it wouldn't be such a versatile solution, but nevertheless it doesn't have to be implemented on a large scale.
Seems to me like it's, again, proof of concept rather that something useful in the long term.

Re:Backwards? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215722)

The idea with a touchscreen is not to eliminate buttons, it is to enable input using the screen. That buttons can be implemented as input to the screen is a happy side effect.

Blind (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215572)

This would be extremely effective in making touchscreen interfaces usable for the blind.

call me pissy but (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215698)

i cant stand the touchscreen interface...its a relic that persists because we are too lazy or stupid to grasp abstract concepts presented to us in the start of the 21st century. We still want to shake, poke, bump, and twist our interfaces to make them do what we want. Its just one more way to dumb-down information and technology as opposed to addressing the real issue: education.

Vat-grown octopus skin will make this obsolete. (2, Interesting)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215878)

Okay, maybe not octopus skin -- but in it, we have an existence proof for a surface that can display high-bandwidth color changes and slower, but quite elaborate, texture changes. With all the progress being made with microfluidics and chip-scale effectors, why on Earth would anyone pursue a chugging, hissing, thermodynamically-disadvantaged pneumatic system for this?

Refresh? (1)

hrimhari (1241292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215964)

This sounds awfully familiar... Oh yeah, here [slashdot.org] .

I invented this two years ago... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215976)

...and discarded it because the screen itself is not flexible enough for serious dynamics (e.g. the form that your keyboard keys have), or if you use a second surface above it that you fill with the air, you get optical distortions.

My current concept is much cooler: Put pins in every spot between 4 pixels (on the corners), and use small magnetic actuators (like speakers) behind the screen, to drive the pins up and down. then attach a flexible foil on the top of the pins. now you can create very nice, fast and detailed tactile surfaces.

If you want to develop this (I haven’t got the time for it, since I'm already trying to make some other inventions reality :), just mention that you got the idea from me and send me a free product with lifetime replacement guarantee, and we’re good. :) I just want to use it, tell everybody how cool it is (advertisement for you), and have made the world a bit better.

I'd like to see ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216070)

... the obligatory Rule 34 implementation. Well, maybe not just see it ......

Multiple monitors for different apps??? (1)

unixguy43 (1644877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216074)

The problem I see here is that you've now got a touch screen that is custom built for a specific, single-screen (or possibly dual-screen, since buttons can be concave or convex) application. If you've looked at a restaurant console, there's multiple screens- not just one, so for each different application, there needs to be a different screen. One to show the tables in the restaurant, one to place a kitchen order, one to place a bar order, one to generate the bill, and so on. The advantage of the touch screen is that you can have the single monitor become a custom interface for any application. It would seem to me that this air-bubble system removes that, unless there's cards that can be removed an inserted to provide the alternate interfaces in a single device. Seems a little too cumbersome and rigid to be functional at this point. If it was something that could be built to represent each individual pixel on the screen, so that the monitor could become a dynamically configurable device, as with the current touch screens, then it might potentially have some usability.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...