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The iPad As a Shape-Recognition System

timothy posted about 4 years ago | from the what-have-we-here dept.

Displays 100

An anonymous reader writes with an interesting use for the iPad: "The guys over at the Volumique blog have a different idea as to how to tackle apps for Apple's devices. They aren't just thinking about a digital activity on such devices, they are experimenting with using physical objects through Apple's multi-touch screens. Imagine being able to buy the playing pieces for a board game, but then loading up an app on your iPad for the actual board. The pieces would be recognized when placed on the iPad's screen, it would even recognize which direction they were facing. This may sound like an impossible feat unless you use a much more expensive device like Microsoft Surface, but Bertrand Duplat and Etienne Mineur at Volumique already have it working."

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Army Strong? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408776)

That wasn't intrusive.

Re:Army Strong? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408872)

You should join the GNAA.

Love slashvertisements (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33409014)

What is with Slashdot incessantly Slashvertising for the iPad? Why is it that any trivial thing done on an iPad becomes a news story here?

What next? Steve Jobs lets a fart rip?

Re:Love slashvertisements (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 4 years ago | (#33412326)

this isn't really trivial, iPad, unlike Surface is not using a camera, just the touch screen controller. It looks like they have a jail breaked iPad to get more fine grained access to the touch sensors. The neat technology is how they use flat "doped" paper stickers rather than something like a shaped rubber stamper, like other iPad/iPhone "pointers" on the market.

This is also news because it will bring things like table top gaming into the digital age, without changing the nature of the games much. Doing this with a game like DnD miniatures would be neat. You could use a phone app to keep track of the squares and do all the damage calculations, etc. allowing for more complex play. When you get more than a few pieces in play the sheer accounting takes more time than playing... watch the Warhammer 40K crowd play and the game descends in to complex damage and stat accounting very quickly and not speedy play. A technology like this would revolutionize gaming. The paper "doping" didn't look like it changed the appearance of the physical cards either. There is one card game for PS3 that tries to use the camera for reading cards and a version of Pokemon tried having embedded codes on the printed cards, but it's just too much kludge. If you could play a game like Magic:TG just by showing your cards to the device you would open up all sorts of play, from having table top referees for one-on-one matches in person to playing somebody across the internet with the PHYSICAL cards, something that has proved difficult.

So anyway, for the Slashdot crowd this is something most of us would actually use at some point.

Won't be long now (2, Funny)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 4 years ago | (#33408788)

Soon the thing will take your fingerprints and surreptitiously send them off...

Re:Won't be long now (5, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | about 4 years ago | (#33408904)

This will only be done in a most secure manner to verify the authenticity of the application and to certify the ownership of the download. All in the cause of guaranteeing the quality of the user experience, and with no ulterior motives. Inputting your mother's maiden name and the last 4 digits of your SS # is entirely optional, but will make available additional game features. Again, this is for your protection and is entirely secure. Play on, and don't give it another thought.

Re:Won't be long now (3, Funny)

blai (1380673) | about 4 years ago | (#33409258)

"You're holding it wrong. Try again with thumb on screen."

Possible hoax (4, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 4 years ago | (#33408812)

Comments attached to TFA indicate it may be a hoax, after watching the videos carefully.

Without more details or having this app actually for download it's hard to say whether real or fake. Indeed it sounds too good to be true, so it probably is.

Re:Possible hoax (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408948)

Since the iPad's screen will only respond to electrically conductive objects (such as your finger), and paper is used to interact with it in one of those pictures, I'm going to say there is a very high probability of this being a hoax.

Re:Possible hoax (3, Interesting)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 4 years ago | (#33409094)

there is a feasible way to create such a system though. there are materials that exhibit the same electrical properties as skin, and these can be used as a stylus on the idevices' screens.

If you could arange little dot patterns of these on the underside of these objects, you would create a recognizable pattern of touches that would indicate orientation as well as position. You'd use up a number of touches though you'd need at least 3 dots and the ipad can only detect 11 touches. the ipod less. you couldn't really place a lot of objects on the screen. I guess the phone doesn't have much real estate for object placing anyway.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 4 years ago | (#33412362)

If they used a jailbreak, they would have access to the actual sensor data and write their own code there's much more data there than Apple is letting devs use. We've seen what the raw data looks like before on Slashdot, so it's more than possible, the trick for them is to get far enough ahead they can persuade Apple to open the SDK, and keep Apple from poaching the idea at the same time.

Re:Possible hoax (2, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 4 years ago | (#33409188)

Interesting. I don't know how touch screens detect the touch.

The videos do not play for me (probably a Flash issue, I'm looking forward to have that replaced with something more reliable), though the article mentions "standard board game play pieces and patterned paper". Neither are commonly conductive. The pieces shown on the images have a metal base, so should be detectable. Those bases look quite identical, so how to recognise individual pieces is a mystery to me. I would expect a dot-pattern on the bottom, or shaped bottoms. The same for the pieces that stand on their legs (let's assume they are made of some conductive material, not standard plastic).

Of course there are basically two issues here to make it work: how to detect the touch (what objects could be detected - you say must be conductive for starters), and how a touch is communicated to the internal system (as a pattern - a list of pixels that are touched, or just a mean coordinate of the centre of a touch). To be able to detect which object is placed where and facing which direction, one would have to be able to get an "image" of the touch and then do pattern recognition on that image.

And I am still wondering how many touches at the same time an iPad's touch screen can actually detect and work with. That could be another limitation.

Re:Possible hoax (3, Informative)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33409576)

The videos do not play for me (probably a Flash issue...

Because maybe you're trying to watch a Flash video of this iPad on an iPad?

Re:Possible hoax (1)

node 3 (115640) | about 4 years ago | (#33410360)

The videos do not play for me (probably a Flash issue...

Because maybe you're trying to watch a Flash video of this iPad on an iPad?

It's clear from his post that it's not on an iPad. Surprise, Flash sucks even if you're not on a iOS device!

Re:Possible hoax (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 4 years ago | (#33410982)

It sucks even more on an IOS device. Damn Apple and Sony for stealing other companies' acronyms.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

black3d (1648913) | about 4 years ago | (#33411838)


Re:Possible hoax (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33411972)


Not at all, it's actually pretty simple.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

black3d (1648913) | about 4 years ago | (#33412010)

Just as I thought, you can't back up your statement. +Funny for the pun, though. ;)

Re:Possible hoax (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33413666)

Just as I thought, you can't back up your statement.

You have me confused with the guy to whom you were replying.

I just jumped in to make the bad joke.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33412014)

It doesn’t say “Posted from my iPad” at the bottom. Duh.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33423668)

Because he wouldn't say, "The videos do not play for me (probably a Flash issue, I'm looking forward to have that replaced with something more reliable)" if he were trying to view it on an iPad. You don't have "Flash issues", you just have no Flash. Also, there would be no *trying* to get the videos to play.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#33430992)

I understand, I should have specified I was after elaboration on "Flash sucks even if you're not on a iOS device!". :)

With the exception of low-processor workstations and mobile devices which support Flash but without the speed necessary to render tween Flash in real time, I've never really had any issues with Flash. I'm trying to determine if it's the performance or the proprietary nature or something else that you don't like?

I'm hoping its not a Apple fanboi stance of "since it doesn't work on iPhone/Pad/whatever, it must suck, because only what Apple does support is clean and bright and beautiful". Flash is the best out there, really. It's much more consistent and available than Silverlight, and faster than SVG or Cairo even for still renders. So - what sucks? :)

Re:Possible hoax (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 4 years ago | (#33411272)

I think for a board game it should be quite simple. The pieces can be made conductive so that when you touch the piece, it detects you are touching a piece, they do make styluses for capacitive touch screens. If you're say, playing chess, you place the pieces in a starting position that is quite universal. From there on, all you have to do is detect the touches (from where to where) and you'll be able to 'know' where each piece is at any given point in time.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

baxissimo (135512) | about 4 years ago | (#33409232)

Lots of things conduct besides fingers. Could be the paper was treated with dots of some conductive ink. You could use the relative locations of a pattern of conductive dots (which the iPad would interpret as multiple "fingers") to encode a bit of information that tells you what a particular object is. I haven't seen the actual video, but within limits, certainly seems feasible to me that you could do Surface-like things on an iPad. One main limitation will be the maximum number of contacts that the iPad tracks. A lot of multitouch systems max out at 4 touches, some at 10 touches. Not sure what the max is on the iPad.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

tsadi (576706) | more than 3 years ago | (#33423634)

the iPad can track up to 11 touches

Re:Possible hoax (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 4 years ago | (#33409778)

Ever take apart a remote control to clean the backs of the rubber buttons and corresponding contact points on the PCB? Nice soft conducting material there... I think it's a carbon embedded in the rubber. Whatever it is, it would make a conductive game piece base and could have a unique pattern in it.

Re:Possible hoax (3, Interesting)

CODiNE (27417) | about 4 years ago | (#33409670)

I've previously seen a demo done with conductive dots on the bottom of game pieces, though it was limited to only a few pieces since the iPad only detects 10 or 11 touches at a time.

It then occurred to me that there may be a hack someone figured out to detect a much higher number of touches by iterating over sets of 10. When you assume all touches are static you may be able to define a specific area of the screen to test for touches. It wouldn't work for dragging multiple objects but with it's slower refresh rate it could in theory track the positions of all objects and then compare for changes.

Further you could divide the game space up into different areas of touch sensitivity. You could have a few areas dedicated to controls which are checked more frequently and a main game area that's checked less often. There may be a slight lag but if you're checking more than 4 times a second it should feel pretty instantaneous.

It also depends on how the iOS reports touches. If there's a "new touch" event you could avoid constantly looping to check different areas of the screen.

But it doesn't seem to be too good to be true, especially with known proofs of concept already out for months.

Re:Possible hoax (1, Interesting)

dissy (172727) | about 4 years ago | (#33409832)

Actually I stumbled across this about a year ago on accident while sewing up some conductive gloves to use my iphone in the winter without freezing my fingertips off. I just never thought it would be useful for anything, though according to the linked videos I might have assumed correctly after all ;}

If you put two conductive points on the bottom of the base, with a nonconductor the right spacing between it, it will register as two fingers touching at the same time.

In my case I was going for extra surface area on a single finger, but what happened was the phone always saw one touch as being two fingers, and triggering the rotation aspect instead of dragging.
However because the spacing of the points on the finger vs the thumb of my glove were different, it measured the two touches differently in that the 'fingers' were different distances away.
In my case I had to rip that out and go with single points on each of the first finger and thumb of the glove, but I was going for normal touch usage of course.

It looks like they are doing something similar on purpose, with two touch points at different distances apart to determine which item it is. And being two points, of course you get rotation with it.

This method would limit you to one item on the screen at a time, however that is demonstrated.
It would also limit you to a small number of different items due to low multitap resolution, however that too is demonstrated with only 3-4 figures and 4 cards, but not all 8 at the same time.

This makes me want to go dig out my conductive thread and start playing again. All my work was with the iphone, but with its small screen it truly was pointless. The ipad screen would be much better for this.

Re:Possible hoax (2, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | about 4 years ago | (#33409846)

It's not impossible, and like always, this slashdot title is the one lying. The hard pieces could have multiple spots (not just a shape) the screen would recognize as multi touches and then it's up to the app to recognize the pattern.

You see, the article does not use the word "shape" anywhere, they just say "object recognition" and that's a world of difference.

It is very likely they have come up with some sort of sticker with pre-defined touchspots and either pre-programmed these patterns on their app code or they made some settup screen to make the program learn the objects.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

node 3 (115640) | about 4 years ago | (#33410392)

Three dots, sufficiently not in a row, are called a triangle. Look up in the sky tonight (northern hemisphere) and you'll see what's called the Summer Triangle.

These three dots make up a triangle, these three dots a square, etc. Claiming that it's a lie to say these are shapes is a bit much.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | about 4 years ago | (#33410702)

Did you flunk Geomotry? Three dots are three dots. They CAN represent a triangle as long as you properly define them as 3 line segments, but by themselves, the 3 dots, a triangle are not.

In the end, the title is a lie because not only there is no mention of such technology in the article, but also because the iPad can't detect shapes. Put a square material that the iPad can recognize on it's surface and the OS just will notify one XY feedback, not the covered area (reason why people without enough foresight are puzzled at how can this be.)

BTW, that blob in your toast is not Elvis either, even if you can say it looks like him with enough imagination. Same holds true for the Summer Triangle.

Re:Possible hoax (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33423680)

Did you flunk Geomotry?

Really? No, I didn't flunk geometry.

Three dots are three dots. They CAN represent a triangle as long as you properly define them as 3 line segments, but by themselves, the 3 dots, a triangle are not.

No, you do not need to actually connect the dots to make a triangle.

The problem is that when someone says, "makes a triangle" or "makes a shape", they don't always mean you have actually connected the dots. You may be surprised to learn that not everyone speaks solely in mathematical terms.

Triangle implies connection (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 years ago | (#33410772)

Three dots, sufficiently not in a row, are called a triangle.

Not if you do not draw lines between them. But lines do not enter into touch detection in iOS, all you ever have are points.

Re:Triangle implies connection (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33423684)

Three dots, sufficiently not in a row, are called a triangle.

Not if you do not draw lines between them. But lines do not enter into touch detection in iOS, all you ever have are points.

This is only true if the author intends the term to be taken in a strict mathematical sense. The word "shape" is not solely mathematical. Neither is triangle. Hence the Summer Triangle.

Or are you saying that astronomers have actually connected the three stars in question? That would be quite a feat!

Re:Triangle implies connection (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33423876)

Hence the Summer Triangle.

Or are you saying that astronomers have actually connected the three stars in question?

"The Summer Triangle is an astronomical asterism involving an imaginary triangle drawn on the northern hemisphere's celestial sphere,"

An imaginary DRAWN triangle still involves lines so yes, that is exactly what they have done. The points in question for detection are a pattern, not a shape. You are also making an assumption without proof that the points are not along a line, when that would make a great mechanism to encode patterns upon.

Re:Triangle implies connection (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33429028)

An imaginary DRAWN triangle still involves lines so yes, that is exactly what they have done.

Do you know what "imaginary" means? It means that no, that's *NOT* what they've done, they've just imagined it being done.

And in that exact same way, there's nothing wrong with calling three dots a "triangle", because the speaker is similarly conveying an imaginary shape.

Re:Triangle implies connection (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33430220)

And in that exact same way, there's nothing wrong with calling three dots a "triangle", because the speaker is similarly conveying an imaginary shape.

As the original poster noted, there is no shape - imaginary or otherwise. That's where you fail to grasp what is going on. It's a pattern, not a shape...

Re:Possible hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33410000)

Batteries! if you look closely at the photos, seems like they use coin cells for the base of the game pieces.
Different voltages for recognition of the pieces?

Re:Possible hoax (1)

joek1010 (980753) | about 4 years ago | (#33410124)

Here's the guy's response to a comment about this on his website:

Non tu ne rêves pas, mais j’ai juste appuyé avec mon doigt au moment de prendre le pion et cela à créé un contact. La démo est développée en Flash et marche vraiment très bien. Nous sommes en train de la redévelopper en Objective C (merci Steve;-).

It says: No, your not dreaming. I just pressed (brushed?) my finger at the moment when I picked up the piece and that created a contact. The demo is developed in Flash and works very well. We're in the process of porting it to objective-c.

Re:Possible hoax (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33410202)

They got Flash to work on the iPad?

Re:Possible hoax (2, Interesting)

joek1010 (980753) | about 4 years ago | (#33410236)

I'm pretty sure he's talking about using flash to develop native iOS apps. (

BTW, I don't think I made it clear in my original post; the reason people think its a fake is because some stuff happens on the screen before he actually places the shape/figurine on it. He claims that his finger brushed the screen.

Re:Possible hoax (2, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33410312)

BTW, I don't think I made it clear in my original post; the reason people think its a fake is because some stuff happens on the screen before he actually places the shape/figurine on it. He claims that his finger brushed the screen.

Yes... check my other posts. I don’t buy that explanation – it’s pretty clear that he didn’t touch the screen.

Been there, done that on Surface (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408820)

I build apps like this for Microsoft Surface and other systems. This technology has been around a long time and there are many apps that do it already. Not news. Congratulations on missing the short bus.


Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408848)

Uh, even the article summary says that this has already been done on the Surface, which is a big "no duh!" since Surface was designed to interact with real-world objects in such a manner.

The news here is that is has been done on the much smaller, much cheaper iPad, which was not designed to perform such a function-- assuming the demo videos are not faked as some have alleged.

Re:Been there, done that on Surface (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 4 years ago | (#33409190)

The surface is camera based. It's built to look at the shape or even color of whatever is put on it. The advices use a capacitive screen. The Apis don't eem give you any information other than a distilled point where it thinks there is a touch. There really isn't the concept of an occupied area of the screen.

So this is different, but I don't understand why someone would want to do this. The real estate of the devices are small. It's not at all like a surface where placing physical objects on a table is a normal thing to do. Plus te only way I can think to do this would be to arrange little dots of conductive material underneath the objects. That would create a recognizable pattern, but it would eat up a ton of the devices finite touches. You could only put 2 things down really.

Re:Been there, done that on Surface (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 4 years ago | (#33412420)

you miss the fact that being able to recognize even simple physical objects without a camera opens up a bunch of new ideas, most readily for gaming but also for other things. Even just pulling up the stats and calculating damage for something like Warhammer 40K is a big deal. The rule and stat book is several hundred pages, they have to have a stack of several hundred cards just to represent all the unit stats "quickly". Pick up a board piece and instantly call up the rules, without having to enter search terms (which are terrible for gaming names) would be a big deal. A two item limit isn't that big of deal.

Re:Been there, done that on Surface (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 4 years ago | (#33414488)

That is a good point. I hadn't thought of situations where recognizing one object would be useful. Still it seems like even that use might be better served by an RFID solution.

Fake. (2, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33408824)

The last choice (“jeux vidéo”) clearly selects itself a moment before the token is actually set down onto it in the first video on their blog [] .

Re:Fake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33409366)

I was going to say the same. FAKEEEEEE

Re:Fake. (4, Interesting)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33409916)

Fake indeed! They took down the incriminating video, but forgot to delete it [] . Get it before it’s gone.

Re:Fake. (2, Interesting)

hack slash (1064002) | about 4 years ago | (#33412836)

Well spotted, something that gets me is that the pieces are 'stamped' down onto the iPhone with a strong enough jolt to trip the accelerometer - perhaps that's how they got some of the timing sorted in the hoax?

Surface (2, Informative)

Zouden (232738) | about 4 years ago | (#33408828)

Microsoft Surface is also much larger (the size of a coffee table or so) where it might make sense to put objects on it. Board gaming on a Surface would be quite an experience, but with an iPad you'd be covering most of the display unless you stuck to just a few playing pieces. You also have to fit the entire board on the screen, as it won't be able to scroll with pieces on it. The example given in the article, Monopoly, just wouldn't wouldn't work at all.

Re:Surface (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33409600)

Monopoly, just wouldn't wouldn't work at all.

And take it from me, don't try to play mumblety-peg on your iPad.

Re:Surface (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 4 years ago | (#33413470)

Hmm. Surface projecting on a Battletech playing field + knowledge of playing field topography + 'mech recognition (perhaps via small patterned labels on the 'mechs) + Battletech rules = realtime display of movement ranges, to-hit chances etc.

Or, more involved, use hexes with blank tops and project the terrain onto them so you can even use the optional rules for fires and cleaning out terrain.

It's simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408880)

How does the pogo stylus work for the iDevices? This likely works the same way. They embed capacitive dots on the device. Different size dots and or multiple dots can be used to differentiate objects. Each app would have a limited number of pre-defined objects that it would recognize. By using multiple dots at different spacial coordinates you could distinguish different objects and the direction that they are pointed. You would likely run into a limitation on the number of multi-touches detected for a game like chess though.

Re:It's simple... (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 4 years ago | (#33409198)

I figure you need at least 4 to distinguish different pieces and orientation. Well, you pretty much max out at 2 objects then.

Re:It's simple... (1)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | about 4 years ago | (#33411540)

I think it could be done with no more than two. The technology behind the iPod touchscreen is capable of recognizing the shape and size of a touch point. So you should be able to determine the type of piece with a single point, and you'd just need another point for orientation. I think only oval shapes can be recognized, but if asymmetrical shapes are possible (or if you had pieces that were symmetrical and limited the forward direction to a 180 degree arc), you could do it with only one.

But if you had access to the low level touchscreen interface, it may not even be a problem. I believe the iPod filters out points below a certain size threshold as random noise. But if you know that you're looking for certain patterns, you could separate these from the noise yourself and there would theoretically be no limit to the number of recognizable shapes.

FUCK YOU AMERICA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33408986)

I'm 24 years old. I don't want to go through the next 50 years of my life living in an international air of worry and uncertainty. I don't want to live in a permanent state of fear, generated by a megalomaniacal American government taking advantage of the majority low IQ populous' capacity for being brainwashed.

I don't want to live like Israel, fighting militant Muslims round every corner. The problem of Muslim extremists exists and needs to be dealt with, not encouraged by invading innocent countries and waging war on people who have done nothing to deserve it. I want my children to grow up in a world free from military oppression and I want a government that understands that the wars of the future are guerrilla ones which can never be won, even if they are waged for noble purposes (which theirs never are).

The world is fu*cked up enough as it is. The food chain has been poisoned so badly the average human is full of chemicals normally found in plastics and toxic waste. I'm sick of global warning and environmental damage to the planet and the fact the all this time the greenies were right. I'm sick of America being the biggest wilful contributor to the pollution of the planet.

I'm sick of an American school system that produces children who are brought up to believe that America IS the world and anything that goes on outside is irrelevant. Children so stupid they think America invented the Internet, computer, motor car, light bulb, telephone etc ad infinitum....

The Internet or it's successor is the future of entertainment and I'm sick of stupid low IQ, ignorant Americans infecting every corner of it with their insular, jingoistic mindsets, their whiny voices and manifestations of their low self esteem driven by the fact that despite it being their turn as the world's super power, no one actually takes them seriously or gives them the respect that the British or the Ancient Greeks got because a superpower best known for producing mass produced crap is never going to get the respect that one who gave the world Shakespeare, culture, philosophy or mathematics will get.

I'm sick of hypocrisy and two facedness. I'm sick of Gangsta Rap and hamburgers, Political Correctness and TV programmes that begin with 'When' and end in 'go bad and attack people'. I'm sick of reality TV and I'm sick of news programmes that are more censored than accurate. I'm sick of tokens, token minorities, token universities, token degrees, token attempts at the truth, tokens. I'm sick of fat people, ugly people, stupid people, gay people, coloured people, female people, whiny people all complaining they don't have the opportunities in life they would like and it must be someone else's fault. I'm sick of women that act like men and femininity being a crime, unless you're a man in which case you're a new man which nobody ever wanted because there was nothing wrong with the old one. I'm sick of people falling over and suing the ground and people watching nipples and suing the TV and I'm sick of coffee cups with 'don't pour over yourself, you may get burnt' on the side to try and counter this.

I'm sick of stupid Americans who don't know the difference between patriotism and jingoism and who think flag waving should be an Olympic event. I'm sick of Americans who cry that people hate them or are jealous of them or who are anti them because someone dares to point out that the America they've been programmed to believe in from birth bears no relation to the one that exists in real life.

Re:FUCK YOU AMERICA! (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33409240)

Just move north. It's almost the same as the USA but without for the arrogant attitude and lowest-common denominator bullshit.


Panaflex (13191) | about 4 years ago | (#33413064)

Children so stupid they think America invented the Internet, computer, motor car, light bulb, telephone etc ad infinitum....

I think you picked a terrible list... I mean, other than the Motor Car all those items *were* invented in America. Sure, you could say that Swan (British) invented a good light bulb (it lasted 13 hours) - but did he invent *the* light bulb - most people would agree that a 13 hour light bulb won't fly. Or how about the Reis telephone - it was useless for talking on!! Or the computer... sure, a German computer did exist, but in terms of an electric, digital computer it's certainly the Atanasoff–Berry. And the internet... 100% American.


Weight or shape-based? (2, Interesting)

Moskit (32486) | about 4 years ago | (#33408996)

Could be a trick, of course. Could be not.

Looking at example with two figurines and iphone it seems that they have different weights - check out the bases. These seem to be button-batteries of different types and weights. In the video, however, look at 00:52 how one of responses highlights before figurine is put down.

With multiple figurines and ipad also see bases - they seem to have different radius. Detection of direction could be a bit of a hoax, maybe figurine is pressed in a specific way to help the system.

"Coloured paper" example could be explained by different amount of surface pressed against screen. Patterns are just to confuse viewers. This one is probably a trick, while the previous ones are more practical.

Comments from people who know how Apple's touchpads work (what they are able to detect) are more than welcome.

Re:Weight or shape-based? (1)

Verteiron (224042) | about 4 years ago | (#33409044)

Interestingly enough the first video is now only 46 seconds long. Never saw the pre-selecting piece.

Re:Weight or shape-based? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 4 years ago | (#33409184)

Just speculation but a conductive surface registers as a touch, so different size magnets could register as different size touches. Maybe the cards have some sort of tape on the bottom that consists of patches of conductive surface mixed with non-conductive surface which would register as a pattern of touches, sort of like braille.

As to the allegation of cheating on the one video, the admin claims (in french) in the comments he grazed the screen with his finger and this is why the touch seemed to register before the figurine hit.

Re:Weight or shape-based? (3, Informative)

anethema (99553) | about 4 years ago | (#33409274)

Certainly not weight based. The touchpads are capacitive sensing touchpads. You generally need conductive materials, and it usually calibrated for the range of human fingers. Some accessories have been made that transmit the capacitance of your finger through a spot in a glove etc so you can use it with gloves on.

As for the chess pieces etc I imagine they could organize the conductive material in the chess piece to indicate direction, but for stuff like the coloured paper, no f'n way. Paper will certainly not trigger any sort of touch response, and there is absolutely no way to sense color.

I personally have a feeling the whole source material is a hoax.

Re:Weight or shape-based? (1)

AC-x (735297) | about 4 years ago | (#33411752)

Those cards are definitely fake, if you watch his thumb he's obviously putting pressure down on the home button.

The figure recognition could be based on size, but then I didn't see anything on the bottom that would allow it to sense which direction it was pointing. If there was 2 pads on the bottom arranged like oO then it would have at least been vaguely believable.

Re:Weight or shape-based? (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | about 4 years ago | (#33412002)

Some of the other videos on their blog [] have been goofy-looking / doubtfully credible too.

For instance this [] – apparently supposed to be using 2D barcodes to identify video clips for an interactive “choose your adventure” style flipbook, but – the exact same card is “scanned” in two demonstrations and two different video clips play.

Or this [] ... notice that in every shot where his hand is in the video frame, you can tell that the video quickly does a blend transition from one cut to another every time the duck moves. Why exactly would they need to do it in multiple cuts?

Breaking news! (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | about 4 years ago | (#33409030)

Device with large multi-touchscreen can be used as a large multi-touchscreen! How about we just gut it and use the screen as a sensor? I know it would leave Apple out, but I'm okay with that.

Re:Breaking news! (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 4 years ago | (#33411022)

Maybe we could even get a pen for it and make the combination pressure-sensitive. Imagine what it could do for artists and drafters. I'm going to start a company doing this. I'll call it "Wacom".

Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (3, Interesting)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 4 years ago | (#33409058)

I thought about this quite a bit: I don't think it will be long before a major RPG system like D&D publishes an entirely paper-free edition, where the players and the DM all have touchpads. Instead of miniatures, you have avatars of your character on the game board, and certain combat actions (like determining whether a hit landed) can be automated. Basically, the "I attack this guy with my +3 sword" command would be selected on your digital character sheet, and then you just get a prompt to roll a d20 on your touchpad. All the stuff about armor adjustments, size compensation, and whatever other rules, would be calculated automatically.

I can't wait for this obvious streamlining step. I think it will most benefit rule-heavy games like Hackmaster, which are a lot more fun than D&D but rather tedious when combat situations get big. Once we get used to this, we can actually make the hit and damage modifier system even more complicated and realistic, because using weapon speed factors, armor type modifiers, armor damage, hit location determination, etc. will actually not slow down the game at all. This stuff can return the focus of the personal interaction to where it should be, which is fantasy and role-playing. As a bonus, combat rounds can be rendered and animated once this gets good enough to help with immersion.

It won't be long before the purchase of a nice touchpad will cost you less than the purchase of a set of D&D rulebooks. Then, instead of reading about character creation, it will make much more sense to just load up the character creation wizard on the touchpad and start rolling. In more advanced versions, the software will show you the first-person view of "what you see" when you kick down a door. This really is the first step.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

NoStrings (622372) | about 4 years ago | (#33409242)

There are already lots of games like this - albeit without the touch screen. Look at Neverwinter Nights, for instance. To me, a system like this would take away from the fun of a pen & paper RPG. It's nice to unplug for a while, sit down with some friends face to face, and roll some dice. I think that it would be nice to have a big touch screen for the main map, but once you let the system automate the rolling of the dice, it basically becomes a computer RPG.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 4 years ago | (#33409370)

But that's what I'm talking about. You'd be around a table with friends. It's just that your character sheet would be a touchpad. You'd roll your dice on it and it would do some of the tedious number-crunching so that you could get on with the face-to-face interaction. Also, your rulebooks would be software in the touchpad.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33409640)

You'd be around a table with friends. It's just that your character sheet would be a touchpad. You'd roll your dice on it

There's a microprocessor in that thing. Why would you need dice at all? And wouldn't the dice just bounce right off the iPad's screen?

The nice thing about pad and paper is that when you get too drunk to do the calculations or see the dots on the dice you know you're too drunk to play the game and it's time to go home.

And please don't throw hard plastic dice onto the screen of my iPad. That bitch was expensive. I'm not sure Apple Care covers screens cracked due to rolling dice on it.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

dissy (172727) | about 4 years ago | (#33409858)

I'm not sure if you are making a joke and I missed it, but your first sentence implies you truly misunderstood.

You'd be around a table with friends. It's just that your character sheet would be a touchpad. You'd roll your dice on it

There's a microprocessor in that thing. Why would you need dice at all? And wouldn't the dice just bounce right off the iPad's screen?

Sorta hard to use the microprocessor to roll dice if you dont run software on the thing ;}

He wasn't referring to physically rolling the dice, literally on the ipad.
But having the software do it for you, thus the dice rolls are generated on the ipad in software.

So, is the woosh on me or you for this one?

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33411950)

So, is the woosh on me or you for this one?

If you look up "woosh" in the dictionary, there's a picture of me.

But I thought since this entire discussion is about using touchscreens to detect positions of game pieces sitting upon it, that the dots on the dice would be conductive, allowing the touch screen to determine the value of the roll.

I was kind of making a joke, because the guy said there would be a touchscreen and you'd "roll the dice on it". I couldn't really tell if he actually meant "roll the dice on it" or "have it roll the dice for us". If he meant the former, then you're the woosh. If he meant the latter, I'm the woosh. Since we're talking about a (possibly hoax) video that describes a touchscreen being used to determine the position and moves of game pieces, you have to admit, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that there's someone out there in the borderlands of geekdom and sanity, who would actually roll dice on a touch screen. I seem to recall reading the description of that very thing on the Microsoft "touch table".

Either way, I'm willing to accept the "woosh" in full.

It's a generational thing, since I admit to not understanding all that loud hippy-hop rave music the kids are all dropping acid to either. For me, "Burning Man" is what happens if I don't use Cruex powder on my nuts in the summer after taking a shower.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

dissy (172727) | about 4 years ago | (#33412430)

I suppose I too shouldn't assume what the original poster meant.

I can definitely see with the topic at hand how you would read that, and for all I know that's what he meant.

Just thinking about his (fairly good) idea of using the pad as a character sheet however, it would be most wise to let it do all the math and game mechanics for you, including random numbers.

In fact I have an iPhone app that does just that, though it is more for novelty sake as it does the sounds and everything (Dice Bag i think it is called)

I haven't played D&D since high school, but the game mechanics are what got tedious and annoying, taking so much away from getting lost in any story. The reason I quit was that good DMs are very very hard to find, and slapping a bunch of math on top just made matters worse with a poor DM.

I seem to recall a similar dice application for the MS surface where as you say, you literally roll dice on it. So there is that too. Personally I would want to strangle anyone tossing sharpish d4's and the like on my brand new quarter of a million dollar table PC!

So who knows. All good ideas need a few tweaks at first to become great ideas. Then the right marketing..
Then legal comes into the picture and ruins everything ;}

Personally I like the idea of just having a physical old school knob instead of a playing piece.
The figurines would be more of a novelty on anything smaller than a table, and using this method as I posted before, I doubt would be able to track more than one, maybe two, objects at once. (Depends if the screen can track 4 fingers or only 2. Each piece is effectively two touches)

The playing card reading seems silly too. True OCR would be useful, and maybe if it could determine 52+ different cards. But I doubt the latter is possible, and at least with iDevices now the former definitely is impossible with just the screen.

Now, take the MS table for a combined playing field, and iPad sized devices for personal character sheets, and you might have a winning combo!
Reminds me a bit of the dreamcast game system setup. Each controller can have a VMU in it with tiny LCD, and of course the TV as shared screen space.
Dreamcast VMU displays really were too small to be useful, but I loved the potential of the idea. It's only going to get closer to perfect as hardware advances, and we are getting close to being able to use it effectively for gaming in this way.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about 4 years ago | (#33412484)

actually, with this tech, you could make a set of dice that really would "roll" on the touchscreen. It would be a neat idea, of course like the Wii fiasco, people would smash their damn screens tossing dice that are just a few grams.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 3 years ago | (#33419310)

We've got that now. d20srd + myth-weavers = rules and character sheets on the iPad

I could even tie in a dice rolling application that tracks statuses and their corresponding effects on the dice, but I still prefer physical dice.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 years ago | (#33409614)

It's nice to unplug for a while, sit down with some friends face to face, and roll some dice.

I don't know about you, but I've got some friends that just hanging out with them is rolling the dice.

Already in the works (2, Informative)

RingDev (879105) | about 4 years ago | (#33409276)

You mean an RPG game like this: []

And a cheap DIY Surface like this:,0 []


Re:Already in the works (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 4 years ago | (#33409430)

Both of those links are very cool, thank you! In the first, I didn't like the virtual dice, and the stupid dramatic delays, but the concept seems good. I was picturing this as more of an app on touchpads that people would own for other reasons, not one giant table-sized touchpad. But then again, I can imagine that there might be some other cool apps for a table-sized touchpad, like those in your second link. Since table-sized HDTVs are becoming affordable, maybe this really is the way to go. That multitouch pong game they were playing really did look kind of fun! Still, I'd want the players and the GM to have their own screens for the character sheet, etc. There could be mounts on the central table so they don't obstruct anything.

Re:Polyhedral dice? Roleplaying applications? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 4 years ago | (#33413498)

Unlikely. The appeal of pen-and-paper RPGs is the immense freedom the players have to do whatever they want, usually involving stuff not covered by the rules. Also, most groups have their own house rules. The only thing that would reliably work yould be a dumb display with the GM doing all the work. You can abstract out checks (unless houseruled) but everything else is a bit too volatile.

In theory is it really that hard? (2, Interesting)

bm_luethke (253362) | about 4 years ago | (#33409092)

It is a capacitive touch screen - right? These work by having a sheet of glass with a conductive material that when your finger (also conductive) touches it is sensed. The question then becomes - how small a "spot" can it sense and how many multi-touches at the same time? If it can sense small enough and a large enough number then a braille like symbol on the bottom of the playing pieces would be plenty to identify the item along with its direction. Some of the items they are placing on the screen *aren't* conductive so they are either faking it or have something else on it. If the latter there are a number of other applications that use capacitive dots so other than applying this to game pieces not really much new.

If the screen *can not* see like that then I can't figure out how it would work. Most bases for board games are round and there is no way to "see" which way the top of the piece is facing - round items do not have direction from their bases. One may be able to have some patterns indicate direction - say each time a piece is placed you are required to move it (maybe even a really small amount) in the direction it is facing, but that isn't inherent in just dropping the piece on the surface and it knowing where it is. Further if it is just a round base and no indentifying marks can be read there is no way to know which piece is what from just setting it on the board. Again, one could make a a system where other information is used - for instance have all the pieces start in known locations. Double tap to remove a piece from the board and every time a piece is picked up it is being "moved" to the next location it touches - basically the pieces are a mouse.

Of course those are how other things "sense" what item is on the surface and direction - the hard part is the surface.

The real issue is why? How many board games can be played on a 10" surface let alone a 4" one? At least with respect to board games (would have to think a bit about other applications) I can't see playing much of anything that way. Even with something that already uses a small board (chess) you would have to have *really* small pieces and would be hard to accurately pick them up and place them. Like many products in search of an audience if their goal is to play with some neat hardware and learn something then there is no answer to why needed past that, if they are looking to make money from this good luck - I think you are going to need it (better get a a patent so you can at least hold onto the idea until screen surfaces catch up with your idea).

Good question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33409248)

I tried googling around to find what was behind the toucscreen technology of the iPAD but could not find enough info. Anyway it all depend on the x/y resolution. There are many tech of capacitive display (see wiki) but to my udnerstanding it all boil down to knowing an array of (x,y) points where the voltage dropped/capacitance changed. If the resolution in x/y of those change is fine enough, one could have conducting material in form of bar code or dot/line (like you mentionned) to show the orientation and value of a card/piece. So if it is a capacitive display it all hinge on the resolution. Other technology you would not have such luck (IR type for example).

I do not see either the interrest of using board game piece with such a small screen, even the smallest encounter in D&D took more place with the tin figurine we use. For other board, maybe it could be interresting, and easier to transport the figurine on holiday , than say, the board AND the figurine. That said, it is more of a gimmick as you could as well *draw* the figurine on the board instead of bringing them with you.

Re:Good question (1)

jcr (53032) | about 4 years ago | (#33412482)

>I tried googling around to find what was behind the toucscreen technology of the iPAD but could not find enough info. ..and you probably won't. It's a trade secret.


Re:Good question (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33517484)

It's out in the open. It's only protected like a trade secret if you steal it from Apple. Reverse engineering a live example is fair game. Just that no one has posted their reverse-engineering notes. Yet.

Re:In theory is it really that hard? (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#33517478)

I think that touchscreens aspire to the same problems as eye-tracker based pointer control: in both the control and visual inputs are mutually exclusive. If you use a touch screen, you can't see what you're pointing at. With an eye-tracker control, you can't see anything but what you're pointing at. Both equally bad scenarios.

I think that eye motion and touch screens were first imagined to be input devices by SF writers who couldn't foresee all of the shortcomings of those input methods.

Give me a separate keyboard and mouse/trackpad any day.

Functionality? (2, Interesting)

CaptainOblivion (1254006) | about 4 years ago | (#33409116)

I'm suspicious this is a hoax (after all, doesn't the iPad's screen detect capacitance- not visuals like patterns and shapes?) ...but even if it's real, I noticed the guy was consistently pressing down pretty hard with everything it detected. I wonder if the object's own weight isn't enough to trip whatever sensor they're using.

Looks a lot like... (1)

rekoil (168689) | about 4 years ago | (#33409140)

The ReacTable [] ...Bjork had one of these on her most recent US tour. Lots of fun to watch in action.

NOT FAKE ! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33409272)

it's not fake. It can only work for one object at a time though. It's pretty simpe... there are two contact points on each object that simulate the touch of a finger. the distance between the points indicates the type of object. and the angle between the points indicates rotation of course ! But they can't scale this up... from what I can tell, one object at a time is a hard limit. But this is a software limitation probably, not a hardware limitation.

Re:NOT FAKE ! (1)

adamdoyle (1665063) | about 4 years ago | (#33411136)

I don't see why you would be limited to one object. If you know the radius of the object and you allow a margin around the edges where you won't put any dots, you can have a variable distance between your two dots (like you said) that differentiates one from another. The margin would have to be big enough, though, to keep your dots from intersecting with dots of other objects. Other than that, just keep it under your max number of touches (which I believe is in the ballpark of 10 touches) and you should be fine.

Imagine: ( +1, Revolting) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33410602)

NOT buying an iPad.

Yours In Moscow,
Kilgore T.

The second one is clearly fake (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33410938)

On the second demo, notice that the thumb on the bottom part of the card is ALWAYS right over the home button? And notice that they don't show the app quitting? I suspect they're just tapping the home button, which the app is capturing and showing a static image in a fixed order. FAKE.

Re:The second one is clearly fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33411060)

And's captcha's SUCK.

Re:The second one is clearly fake (1)

bazaarsoft (911025) | about 4 years ago | (#33411076)

I replied on their site with this exact post and guess what? It's moderated and they nuked my post. FAKE for sure.

Re:The second one is clearly fake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33411112)

Or they could be faking it with Mocha camera tracking for After Effects. (either way it would be VERY easy to fake)

Re:The second one is clearly fake (1)

AC-x (735297) | about 4 years ago | (#33411774)

Watch his thumb, the end of his nail goes white which means he's applying pressure, and his thumb is right over the home button...

These guys are amateurs, if they're going to fake it they should have used thinner paper so their finger press would register through it (I've tried it on my htc hero and the touch screen does work through a sheet of paper)

Didja notice.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33412478)

Did anyone notice the Eldar model they were using in the second image? I wonder if Games Workshop [] know about this? Even though its free advertising, their IP watchdogs [] will will probably litigate this into nonexistence.

Even Better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33413022)

Imagine a surface where EVEN THE GAME PEICES are simulated! Like an entire board game with no physical parts at all! REVOLUTIONARY!

"may sound like an impossible feat" (1)

RichiH (749257) | about 4 years ago | (#33415450)


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