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A Sticky Touch Screen Lets You Feel the Buttons

CmdrTaco posted more than 2 years ago | from the gross-gross-gross dept.

Input Devices 72

mikejuk sent one in that sends absolute shivers up my spine. "I have a problem with sticky touch screens — whenever I try to clean the jam off I activate and use a lot of apps I never intended to. However it looks as if sticky is the way of the future. A prototype screen has been shown that varies the friction as you move your finger across it. The result is that you can 'feel' the buttons and notches on scroll bars. It sure beats having to build real buttons..."

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72 comments

Buttons... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36082840)

Yea, buttons. Right...

Only on iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36082854)

Androids are always sticky anyway, so the feature wouldn't work.

Nothing new (1)

mr1911 (1942298) | more than 2 years ago | (#36082856)

There are a lot of users out there with sticky keyboards.

Those keyboards didn't start out sticky. It's best not to think about why they are sticky. And wear gloves if you have to touch the keyboard.

Re:Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36082902)

Back in the old days there were things called buttons for doing this. NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!

What am I missing? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36082862)

whenever I try to clean the jam off I activate and use a lot of apps I never intended to.

Turn it off and clean it? Or am I missing something.

Re:What am I missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083016)

And possibly miss the precise moment a text message or email arrives? Blasphemy!

Re:What am I missing? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083038)

If you are, I'm missing it too. Screenlock, wipe on pants, unlock.

Re:What am I missing? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36084136)

Wipe on pants, wipe on pants, wipe...on...pants...........YEAH! Oh damn, the screen's sticky again.....

Re:What am I missing? (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 2 years ago | (#36086596)

You're missing that it's a joke for sticky. The screen increases resistance making it feel "sticky", it doesn't ooze any material onto the screen.

From TFA: (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083058)

"Instead of embedding lots of transducers across the surface of the panel the system tracks the figure position and simply turns the vibration on and off. "

Bye bye multitouch?

Great, now we just need (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083084)

Touch screens that "bulge" out at arbitrary places where 'haptic buttons' are placed. That are pressure sensitive, and that you can feel going down when you push them.

Friction alone is not much feedback. We also need to know when we've pushed a button.

Re:Great, now we just need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083172)

Try using a Nokia N8. I only used one once, but it really felt like I was pushing real buttons. I was impressed. Too bad the OS was such crap compared to Android and iOS that it just wasn't worth it for the excellent hardware, including the 12MP camera with real optics.

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083258)

Touch screens that "bulge" out at arbitrary places where 'haptic buttons' are placed.
That are pressure sensitive, and that you can feel going down when you push them.

Wake me when I can buy a Goa'uld tablet PC.

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084712)

They just stole the technology from another race, you know.

Hmm... Bill ? Steve ? Blood test, please ?

Re:Great, now we just need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083286)

You know if people weren't so squeamish about human testing now we would have had a direct link to the brain, no more buttons, no more screens, no more stupid keyboard germs.

But nooo, human testing is bad as opposed to torture and executions of terrorists and criminals, which is good because it's sanctioned by the government and all churches.

Re:Great, now we just need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083340)

We do plenty of human testing on brains. What are you on about?

We'll never have a brain-machine interface like the one you're talking about, though.

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084332)

We'll never have a brain-machine interface like the one you're talking about, though.

Why not?

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084616)

Because brain surgery is expensive, messy, painful, and prone to kill a small, but non-zero, percentage of patients. We're not talking about a boob job here, no ethical doctor is going to open up your skull and poke around installing consumer electronics becasue you think it's cool. You might see some limited applications for people who have legitimate medial problems that direct implants will solve (optical or audio sensors wired to the appropriate nerves or brain centers for the blind or deaf come to mind), but the idea of brain surgery for purely elective implants seems improbable at best.

Re:Great, now we just need (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36086022)

Never say never. Your comments might be true at the moment, but technologies and societies change.

Look at all the other medical procedures being done today because "it's cool":
1) laser eye surgery (not a medical necessity, you can wear glasses)
2) skull implanted hearing aids (not a medical necessity, you can just be deaf)
3) breast implants (I don't think I need to elaborate here)
4) penile implants (not a medical necessity, you don't NEED to have sex when you're old or impotent, you can just go without)
5) Other cosmetic surgery: nose jobs, hair implants, facelifts, etc.

There's no shortage of doctors willing to perform all these medically-unnecessary procedures, basically because someone thinks "it's cool".

Yes, brain surgery is currently more dangerous than a boob job, but 30 years ago, eye surgery wasn't exactly a walk in the park either and had a huge probability of making things worse. Now we have LASIK which is mostly automated and has an extremely low complication rate. In the future, we're probably going to have robots doing most or all surgeries, as they don't have the deficiencies that human hands do.

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36088598)

Of all of those I'd only rate the LAZIK surgery as being in the same ball park. The rest either correct an otherwise uncorrectable deficiency (skull implanted hearing aides), or are "cosmetic" in more ways than one. One of the hallmarks of nearly all elective cosmetic surgery (every procedure I know of at any rate, though I grant you that my knowledge is unlikely to be all encompassing or even close to it) is that they never get past "superficial" cuts. They may cut into skin, fatty tissue, even muscle in some cases, but they never breach any of the important body cavities that house our internal bits. It adds all kinds of complications to surgery when you get past skin and muscle cuts.

Here's an example. Most doctors in the US, Canada or most of Europe won't do lap-band surgery on patients that aren't at least 75-100 pounds overweight, even when the patient is willing to pay for it themselves. The surgery is relatively trivial, the systems involved are very well understood, the complication rate is extremely low. Why won't they do it? A lot of reason, but largely because surgery past the abdominal wall, even routine, well understood, simple surgery, is considered a high risk activity. Unless the pay off is a significant weight reduction and therefore significant quality and (average) length of life increase, they don't want to take the risk.

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#36088748)

The rest either correct an otherwise uncorrectable deficiency (skull implanted hearing aides), or are "cosmetic" in more ways than one.

Deafness is a deficiency, but so is being fat, ugly, short, etc. Liposuction and other cosmetic surgeries work on the first two of those (there's no treatment for shortness I know of). But none of these are medical necessities. You don't need to hear to function in society, any more than you need to be beautiful. It certainly helps (a lot in many cases, just look at all the no-talent beauties in the film and music industries making million$ even though they can't even sing in key), but lots of people function just fine without hearing. It's a lot easier than being blind at any rate.

Here's another one: dental implants, root canals, etc. No dental work is medically necessary. Yes, you have to do something to avoid abcesses, as those can be fatal if the infection spreads (such as to the brain only a few inches away), but all you have to do is pull the tooth and clean out the socket. You don't need implants or crowns, those are purely cosmetic. Yes, without them, your teeth will move around, your bite will be totally screwed up, and you'll have a harder time eating food, but you can eat soft food and have ugly teeth and live just fine. Just look at Britons! They all have ugly, crooked teeth for some reason. I agree: most cosmetic surgeries currently only operate on skin and muscle and fat, but dental work directly affects the bone in your head, the same piece of bone which houses your brain. People get medically-unnecessary root canals and implants all the time, even though implants in particular involve drilling into your skull bone.

Anyway, my point is that all this stuff you talk about only addresses the current state of the art, and the current culture. These things change. Today, people think little of getting LASIK surgery, even though a complication there can mean going blind, which really is something difficult to live with in our visual-oriented society. They do it because the complication rate is so low, thanks to automated technology doing much of the work. In a hundred or a thousand years, who's to say that brain implants won't be routine and perfectly safe, with the operation being entirely performed by robots?

Re:Great, now we just need (1)

Wandering Idiot (563842) | more than 2 years ago | (#36089016)

We'll never have a brain-machine interface like the one you're talking about, though.

We most likely will, it would just require advanced nanotechnology and a much better understanding of brain physiology than we have now (easier said than done, I know). Although it would likely happen decades after systems that just tie a display into the optic nerve and the input into basic nerve impulses or muscle movements.

"Never" is an extremely broad statement to make, given the time scale it implies. The only way I could really see it being true barring some unforseen insurmountable technical difficulty is if, by the time the technology is avaialable, traditional biological brains have been improved upon in other mediums to the extent that there's no point making advanced interfaces for them, except for nostalgic/historical purposes. I'd imagine it would still be done by someone, though.

Re:Great, now we just need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083622)

What the fuck are you talking about?

Re:Great, now we just need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083822)

Great, just what I need, 4chan wired directly into my brain.

Still don't fix a major problem with touch screens (1, Interesting)

WegianWarrior (649800) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083104)

...the lack of tactile feedback.

For what I used to call mouse guestures - I don't know what to call them now that a mouse isn't involved any longer - a touch screen is great. Just wipe, swipe and pinch all you like and it works great and intuitively. For pushing buttons... not so great in my opinion, and even less if you don't get an immediate feedback (visual or auditory) telling you if the button press have been registered or not. And don't even get me started on the on-screen-keyboard thing... combining lack of tactile feedback with the joys of pushing your fingers into a non-yielding surface. It may be okay for some, but not for me...

Re:Still don't fix a major problem with touch scre (3, Informative)

yincrash (854885) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083210)

Did you read the article? While this isn't the same as a raised button, it is definitely a form of tactile feedback. I think the biggest issue with this form though is that it only appears to work for one finger.

Re:Still don't fix a major problem with touch scre (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083582)

The biggest thing I'd want feedback for is knowing where to put my finger, and that doesn't get helped at all with this, because it happens when the finger's already touching it, and in fact only when it's moving. Aside from that, help moving a text carat would be great, I suppose, but I don't see most of the rest being useful.

Re:Still don't fix a major problem with touch scre (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084652)

he biggest thing I'd want feedback for is knowing where to put my finger, and that doesn't get helped at all with this, because it happens when the finger's already touching it, and in fact only when it's moving. Aside from that, help moving a text carat would be great, I suppose, but I don't see most of the rest being useful.

It's useful for text entry actually. If you tap the wrong key you just shift left or right and the feedback tells you when you can lift your finger - after a few times you'll probalby do this automatically. It beats the current method where you have make sure the finger has rolled enough, though the enlarged popups help (on iOS) since it's easier ot see. Also on iOS, you can touch the punctuation shift, drag over to the character you want, then lift which types that character and resets back to alphas.

If you just use hunt and peck on a touch screen, then yes its utility is limited. But if you try to use the assistance the OS is giving for onscreen keyboards, it can help out a lot.

Re:Still don't fix a major problem with touch scre (2)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083712)

It also only works while the finger is moving across the screen. This technology relies on the differential formed by varying between vibrating and not vibrating. You can't have a differential if you're just tapping the screen.

The problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083116)

The problem with this kind of technology is that you already have to touch the screen to feel the difference. There's no "hover" on a touchscreen, if you're sliding your finger over the screen you're already scrolling the page (which means you won't feel the edges of buttons or scroll bars, since they're moving along with your finger) or clicking and/or selecting all kinds of random stuff. Which kinda misses the point of improving touch interaction.

Am I the only one that misses buttons? (4, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083530)

Well, am I?

Buttons provide tactile response about location and success of triggering a function. Both aspects are quite useful for things like accessibility, but I still prefer the knowledge of having hit a button on a cell phone keypad or qwerty over the use of a touchscreen where I have to constantly be looking at what I'm typing.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36083730)

You are not. I miss physical buttons too. I hate having to look at the screen to do everything.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084284)

You (and the people who modded you up) do know they still make phones with buttons, right? You don't have to miss them at all.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36084588)

You do if you want a _decent_ smartphone. If you get an android phone with a physical keyboard, you still have to use the screen to make or answer calls.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36087620)

You do if you want a _decent_ smartphone. If you get an android phone with a physical keyboard, you still have to use the screen to make or answer calls.

Hmm. I'd never actually tried that, so I just gave it a shot:

On my Droid 1, I slid out the keyboard. I then entered a phone number. I pressed enter.

It worked great. I see no reason why I'd have to use the screen, at all, to do this: The behavior was very predictable.

Next time the phone rings, I'll try to answer it without the touchscreen. Who knows, it might work fine, but frankly it does sound a little bit more inconvenient than just sliding my finger across the screen (which I can already do without looking at it).

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36105764)

On my droid pro (and the droid 2 I had briefly), if I enter a number, it brings up google search. I still have to press the little phone icon to enter the dialer first.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36114462)

Yep, mine too.

Just press enter (or return, or whatever the hell the represents newline on the slide-out keyboard), which tells Google Search to launch whatever the default action is for the data you've entered. For a phone number, that means that Dialer loads up, and -- well -- dials.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

lostfayth (1184371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36087908)

Can you suggest a decent smartphone with a physical keyboard that works on 1700/2100Mhz AWS? And by decent, I am looking for something roughly comparable with the Nexus S and not produced by RIM. And no, switching carriers is not an option, unless there are other carriers in both the US and Canada supporting the same frequencies and providing comparible service - in terms of price, coverage and customer service.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36089180)

yes

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084518)

I think I miss buttons more than you. phone shmone, I hate that my external LCD has no buttons.
I want a big, easy to feel in the dark, cheap, classic button that closes or opens a circuit, dam it! Like the red button on this thing [google.com] .
I'm only 28, and I'm already thinking about the fact that some young people have never felt and heard the satisfying "click" that a real button makes. It is somehow strange to feel so old.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 2 years ago | (#36089812)

Wrong. Buttons break. They wear down and off. They get in the way when you're not using them. I can't count the number of devices I've had, prematurely bound for the trash heap because of a single button. It's always cheaper to replace the entire unit than fix them. You can delude yourself with rosy memories, I'll enjoy my new found freedom and my devices that last longer with fewer moving parts.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

lucian1900 (1698922) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084530)

Me too. It's getting harder and harder to find a good Android phone with a good keyboard. Sadly, the lovely G1 still has the best keyboard.

Re:Am I the only one that misses buttons? (1)

eth1 (94901) | more than 2 years ago | (#36086306)

I actually usually prefer a touch screen, but there's a big catch. There can't be ANY lag. My iPhone is great - almost everything responds immediately, and I have no problems at all.

My GPS has the same type of touch screen, but it's horrible. There's a little (very very tiny bit, actually) lag, but it's enough to really throw me off.

Basically, touch screens suck when the hardware can't keep up with the interface.

25 more square feet dumping the shelves (-1, Offtopic)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#36083868)

Between iPods and eBooks you can dump most CDs and books.

explanation of the vibration (3, Informative)

danlock4 (1026420) | more than 2 years ago | (#36084266)

TFA indicates that the screen vibrates to create a thin layer of air between the finger and the screen. That results in low friction. When the finger "touches" a button, the vibration stops, the finger "touches down on" the screen and the friction increases, telling the finger and the brain that a button (or a notch on a scroll bar, etc.) has been reached. That differs from currently-widely-available haptic feedback because the vibration is in the screen itself and not the entire device.

Like a wiimote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36084276)

This is conceptually the same as how a wiimote throbs when the pointer moves over a button or active region. It's a nice bit of user interface, definitely, but is far short of what's needed for a replacement of a keyboard or gamepad.

but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36085304)

Can I wear gloves

I don't get it (1)

JDHannan (786636) | more than 2 years ago | (#36085358)

Why would you be dragging your finger across the screen, looking for a button? If you were already touching the screen, how would you then 'press' the button?

Sticky touchscreen (1)

nicomede (1228020) | more than 2 years ago | (#36085420)

My touchscreen is sticky, but I guess it has more to do with reading the news while eating honey toasts at brekfast.

Swiss Mouse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36085866)

It's called the Swiss Army Mouse, because of it's color. It came standard with the AT&T Teletype 5620 graphics terminal in the mid-80s. I've still got mine. (I used to maintain the Usenet comp.terminals.tty5620 FAQ on them.)

hmm... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36087354)

i wonder if something similar could be done using static cling effects. But then i guess that would mess up the use of Capacitive screens (unless the system was clever enough to eliminate the noise from the active sections).

Wiimote already does this (1)

alannon (54117) | more than 2 years ago | (#36087402)

This is the method that the Wiimote already uses to let you 'feel' the buttons or letters on the screen. It works well. When you get the edge of a button, you feel a 'bump'. From reading the article, this appears to be exactly the same thing, except on a touch-screen.

Re:Wiimote already does this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36164510)

Not true. The Wii-mote is sending haptic cues via vibration. This device vibrates as well, but the user does not feel the vibration. The fingertip's peak sensitivity is ~300Hz, well below the 26kHz operating frequency of the device (TPaD). The sensation that the user DOES feel is the reduction of surface friction coefficient due to the 26kHz vibrations. It's actually pretty cool stuff, but it's definitely one of those devices you need to feel to really get the "wow" factor.

Alpine PulseTouch (1)

quick_dry_3 (112334) | more than 2 years ago | (#36089698)

From the description this sounds the same as Alpine PulseTouch which came out for their in-car media units several years ago

don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36096768)

the volume and velocity of your jam will decrease with age

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