×

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!

Disney Research Can Turn Nearly Any Surface Into a Touch Screen

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the even-your-keyboard dept.

Displays 96

surewouldoutlaw writes "Remember that scene in Fantasia where Mickey turns all the brooms into an army of workers? Well, Disney isn't quite there, yet. But scientists with the company's research lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have been able to turn virtually any surface, including liquid water and the human body, into a multi-touch interface. The new system is called Touché, and it is as awesome as it sounds."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

96 comments

.. Anything? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957153)

No baby! Honest it's a touch screen. Try it out.. Yeah.. You just have to rub a little harder.. Harder!

Rule 34 ... (4, Funny)

jbezorg (1263978) | about 2 years ago | (#39957223)

... right out of the gate

Re:Rule 34 ... (1)

chill (34294) | about 2 years ago | (#39957289)

Now, don't go all Hitler on him you Nazi!

Re:Rule 34 ... (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | about 2 years ago | (#39958407)

Oh no. Seeing the application of rule 34 being applied so soon on the internet is like finding a alternative method for arriving at the same value for a universal constant.

Re:Rule 34 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39965789)

I knew Hitler and your no Nazi!

Re:Rule 34 ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957293)

RoA #34: War is good for business.

Ummm, what?

Re:Rule 34 ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957357)

http://atlas.wolfram.com/01/01/34/ :-)

Re:.. Anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39960815)

This is great! Now I can start fap.fm so people can scrobble how many times a day they jack off.

It's as awesome as it sounds.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957205)

And it sounds okay!

Re:It's as awesome as it sounds.... (2)

localman57 (1340533) | about 2 years ago | (#39957359)

I think you're right. It's just OK. Watching the video on the disney research link, you can see the signal that they're measuring. It appears that they can detect the amount of touch (one finger, two fingers, your whole palm), but not much more subtle than that. If you ever messed around with a multi-meter as a kid on Resistance mode, you probably did much the same thing. The summary makes it seem like the system would be capable of distinguishing a lot of different features. Really, it appears (from the video) that it would probably be just as happy to see you put your fingers to your forehead as your lips (and that's assuming you have electrodes strapped to your ear and your wrist, based on the hand-touching demonstration.

In short, IMHO, this looks like a potential evolutionary change for some applications, but not the revolution the summary seems to promise. You're not going to be playing charades so you can use Siri without talking...

Uhhh... (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957211)

Is this a joke? Because I was thinking I'd see some cool video, and instead, I saw some sort of Pavlovian training of children to eat cereal with a spoon, and not chopsticks. WTF?

Re:Uhhh... (1)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#39957343)

Yeah I had to come here and comment at that point. I know it's just an example, but it's a damn bad one lol.

Why not just say "Use the spoon for your cereal, Son"?

Re:Uhhh... (2)

superdave80 (1226592) | about 2 years ago | (#39957413)

Or maybe not leave the chopsticks out at breakfast? I'm just sayin'...

Re:Uhhh... (2)

tom17 (659054) | about 2 years ago | (#39957497)

It's actually quite telling that Disney thinks this would be a good example of how to train a child.

Makes you wonder what horrific pavlonion subliminal messages are in the films they make...

Re:Uhhh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957615)

The subliminal messages can be summarized in one word: "Buy!"

Re:Uhhh... (1)

TheInternetGuy (2006682) | about 2 years ago | (#39961371)

Or maybe not leave the chopsticks out at breakfast? I'm just sayin'...

Here in Japan, chopsticks are commonly used for eating breakfast ( we do love our white rice three times a day). But if my son wanted to try to eat his cereals with chopsticks, I'd just say;
-Go for it son!
But remember you have to be in school in 15 minutes.
If he was a toddler I'd just let him play till he tired of it.
I don't now enough on training mentally handicapped children to know if this may be useful to them, but that is about the only scenario that I can think of.
Except for the crappy example, the tech seems pretty cool if it works.

Re:Uhhh... (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 2 years ago | (#39957537)

You beat me to it. That was my first thought. The overly complicated doorknob and the tv that would turn off if you slump too much also seemed like overwrought solutions to nonexistent problems.

Still, as a switch for something in an amusement park, the technology did seem pretty promising.

Re:Uhhh... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#39957993)

I think this may be more for food prep. Sometimes people will use their hands when they are supposed to use a spoon, thus contaminated the food. T t could be used to help enforce proper handling of food in food service industries.

Re:Uhhh... (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#39961357)

Almost all of their real world examples were poor. Sitting on the couch turns the tv on, so if I stand up to go to the kitchen, it'll shut off? It knows I fell asleep because my arm rolled onto the couch? Or "lock the door" by closing it with your whole hand, but use just a single finger to "shut the door and not lock it"
tap on the wrist to change the channel, act like you are praying to turn the iPod on.
These were the best ideas they could come up with?

Disney? You just click your heels twice and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957239)

wish upon a star.

The human body is already a multi-touch interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957243)

The human body already has the ability to detect multiple touches at once and react to them.

Re:The human body is already a multi-touch interfa (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#39961261)

Yes, but the iPod can't detect when you are touching your body, and react.

Actually not a touch_screen_ as such... (5, Informative)

Sprite_tm (1094071) | about 2 years ago | (#39957281)

The device can detect the _way_ tou touch it (one finger, complete hand, ...) but not _where_ you touch it, so it's not a touchscreen per se, more of a more-intelligent touch switch. I admire the way they made it from fairly simple components: I built my own prototype working in the same fashion in about one evening after reading their docs: http://spritesmods.com/?art=engarde [spritesmods.com]

Re:Actually not a touch_screen_ as such... (1)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#39957743)

Those are some pretty cool projects you've done. Thanks for sharing them.

Re:Actually not a touch_screen_ as such... (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 2 years ago | (#39960453)

I wonder if it can be made to detect where you touch as well. Maybe by using several electrodes and comparing phase shifts (or something like that).

Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39957305)

The technology is cool and all, but a touch "screen" detects where you are touching it - this detects only that you are touching an object, not where (though as shown it does detect how it's being touched).

The examples they give are pretty contrived but I'm sure there could be some good uses that come from it. One I can think of right away would be making current touch lamp switches more accurate, right now you just turn them on/off if you brush against them. It would be nicer if they needed a grasp or multiple fingers to turn them on/off.

It has the same problem as all gesture based systems though, the difficulty of discovering what the interface does... even touch controlled lamps have that issue, people can spend a while looking for a switch before they figure out they can just touch the body of the lamp.

Re:Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (2)

alostpacket (1972110) | about 2 years ago | (#39957611)

One I can think of right away would be making current touch lamp switches more accurate, right now you just turn them on/off if you brush against them. It would be nicer if they needed a grasp or multiple fingers to turn them on/off.

Even better would be if you could "CLAP ON" and "CLAP OFF" the lights.

Re:Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39958317)

It reminds me of the device I had a decade ago that I attached to a floor lamp. I could turn the lamp on low, medium, high, then off, just by touching it. I could touch the lamp anywhere along the base or post, and it worked just like turning the switch. How is this Disney thing any different from that?

In measuring how it is touched (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39959537)

How is this Disney thing any different from that?

It's really similar, the lamp switches you mentioned basically work the same way.

The advancement here is that it measures a sweeping range of frequencies over time, so it can have profiles for different ways something is touched (grasping, one finger, two finger) since they all change the response the sensor gets back.

Re:Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39958581)

I envision a sound-feedback for surgeons that can let the surgeon know what kind of tissue he's touching at the moment and how deep his instrument is.

Re:Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39959331)

Sounds like it'd be great for the blind. ;)

Re:Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39961007)

My wife has a sound-feedback that can let me know what kind of tissue I'm touching at the moment and how deep my instrument is.

Captcha: lustrous

Re:Touch "detector", not really "screen"... (1)

Solandri (704621) | about 2 years ago | (#39958927)

this detects only that you are touching an object, not where

Seems like that would be pretty easy to add with some sort of capacitive (or possibly even resistive) gradient mesh overlaid on top of the surface you wanted to turn into a touchscreen. A touch in one location would then generate a different frequency response than a touch in a different location. If the mesh has orthogonal signal gradient curves along orthogonal physical axes, you can get 2D and 3D touch location data.

Unlike a regular touchscreen, you could reverse the mesh and add it to the object doing the touching. Add something to your middle finger so it generates a different response than your index finger. So if you touch the screen with the index finger it does the regular select and drag. But if you touch it with your middle finger it pops up a menu (like a second mouse button).

It's a really cool idea with a lot of potential.

Whats with the video (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | about 2 years ago | (#39957307)

Am I the only one who smiled when the video was demonstrating pinching, grasping and touching which seemingly looked like a nipple

Re:Whats with the video (2)

SWad (454879) | about 2 years ago | (#39957451)

Yeah, finally sensory feedback from a computer during sex with my wife to let me know if I'm doing it right or not.

"A little lower, honey."
"No, honey. I should be 2.6mm to the left."

Screen? (1)

bhengh (2029204) | about 2 years ago | (#39957345)

Doesn't the name "touch screen" imply a display?

Re:Screen? (4, Funny)

Defenestrar (1773808) | about 2 years ago | (#39957531)

You mean like a paper screen, or a wind screen, smoke screen, genetic screen, mechanical screen, or naval screen?

Re:Screen? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#39958983)

You mean like a paper screen, or a wind screen, smoke screen, genetic screen, mechanical screen, or naval screen?

Exactly! I knew everyone wanted to watch a movie in my bellybutton....

Re:Screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39959137)

Brings new meaning to the term "Navel Gazing".

Uh.... what? (4, Funny)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#39957361)

Disney walking brooms is to touchscreens ?

Re:Uh.... what? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957589)

As French Guiana is to Snorlax.

Re:Uh.... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39961429)

It's super effective!

Re:Uh.... what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39958663)

Remember that scene in Monsters Inc. where childrens' screams were harvested as a pure form of energy? Well, we're not quite there, yet. But scientists have been able to turn various surfaces in multi-touch interfaces.

Creepy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957479)

First I read "liquid water IN the human body".

Wish I could log in at work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957489)

Sorry, but with a statement like "The new system is called Touché, and it is as awesome as it sounds.", they damn well better be saying that with a french accent, otherwise it just sounds a whole helluva lot like "douche"... so the 'awesomeness' of how it sounds can be two entirely different extremes here.

no mac? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39957501)

Observe how he didn't use a Mac for the demo.

Finally...the future (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | about 2 years ago | (#39957599)

I have been waiting for this kind of thing for decades. I mean, ffs, it's the new millenium, past 2010 even, and we don't have replicants or HAL9000 computers or flying cars or hotels orbiting Jupiter. We don't even have a moonbase or space elevator to help get us there. No affordable household robots or holodecks or brain recording and playback devices. No ubiquitous true 3D hologram devices. No affordable head mounted displays for VR. It just doesn't feel like the future yet.

But this technology is more like it. If/when this becomes affordable commercial tech I'll definitely be in line for one. Those of you who are seeing this as merely an improved touchscreen I think are missing the point. This is Future Tech.

Did an alien spaceship land at Disney or something? I mean, Disney of all people. It would be bizarre if almost immediately after this invention they come up with a small fusion reactor, a warp drive engine, anti-gravity boots, artificial animals, and direct brain to computer interfaces with the ability to record and playback thoughts and emotions.

Re:Finally...the future (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | about 2 years ago | (#39957947)

Doesn't the Roomba count as an affordable household robot?

roomba is a joke (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 2 years ago | (#39958085)

I tried one in my living/dining area. It got stuck under the dining room table amongst the chair/table legs, and it got hung up on the living room rug.

Re:roomba is a joke (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 2 years ago | (#39958247)

I tried one in my living/dining area. It got stuck under the dining room table amongst the chair/table legs, and it got hung up on the living room rug.

So does mine, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it to move the chairs and police up the stuff it gets stuck on.

Overall, our carpets have been vacuumed a whole lot more with the Roomba than without.

Re:Finally...the future (1)

Creepy (93888) | about 2 years ago | (#39958419)

My first thought was we can make ST:TNG communicators with this. The first thought of the rest of the pervs here seems to indicate it should apply to some sort of sex toy - at least yours wasn't ;)

Re:Finally...the future (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 2 years ago | (#39959015)

I guess Apple made an affordable tricorder, so a communicator is the next obvious step... it could even be a bluetooth device!

Re:Finally...the future (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | about 2 years ago | (#39959259)

How does this have anything to do with TNG communicators? They didn't have different do different things based on how you touched them as far as I can recall.

Re:Finally...the future (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39960291)

Of course we have that stuff. remember when we built the forget ray so the stupid people wouldn't.. ohhh
Nevermind.

Re:Finally...the future (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 years ago | (#39961655)

Actually, it made perfect sense to me that Disney would do something like this. I was just in Disney World and they have this new game that people can play. You get "spell cards" and walk up to a designated spot. Suddenly, a portal "appears" and you use the spell cards to fight Disney villains. There's an overarching story to this, but the relevant part is that these "portals" seem to appear out of spots that otherwise look normal.

Disney has also worked on costumed characters that can speak with the character's voice on the fly (not prerecorded sound bites) and move their eyes and mouth and have worked on touch-screen walls that look like honey is dripping down them (for the Winnie the Pooh ride). I could definitely see them using something like this in their theme parks.

Requires Training (2)

mj1856 (589031) | about 2 years ago | (#39957601)

I would think the downfall of a system like this is that it would require user training for each and every gesture. Certainly, humans of different ages and hand sizes would have different capacitive properties to their hands. I'm sure other factors like body hair, perspiration, skin tone or texture, etc. probably have some affect.

If training WASN'T required, I could see Disney using this in their theme parks. Especially in the little kids rides and houses in Mickey's Toon Town. Imagine the surprise on your four-year-old's face when the fake plastic props start interacting with them in interesting ways.

I'm pretty certain training would be a requirement though. And alas, you aren't going to get a four-year-old to sit through a calibration session.

Maybe this has better applications for the deaf or blind as a more precise haptic interface to other devices.

Wait; Disney Research is a thing? (5, Interesting)

alphax45 (675119) | about 2 years ago | (#39957709)

I think the most interesting part of this article for me is that Disney has a research arm. I didn't know or even think about that before seeing this. I took a look at the site and it seems like they do some cool stuff. They have locations near some major universities and in Zurich. Seems like it would be a good place to work.

Re:Wait; Disney Research is a thing? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 2 years ago | (#39961683)

I take it you've never been to Disney World. The rides they create aren't simple roller coasters. It's an entire experience involving lots of technology. At one time, it was all about animatronics that looked as real as possible. Now, it's more about computer projections either mixing with real life or being generated in real-time.

Need training for recognition algorithm? (1)

photonyx (2507666) | about 2 years ago | (#39957749)

The article says nothing about how they trained their software. Is it person-specific? I suspect that the sensor response from different people gripping the same doorknob can be quite different. Same due to sweating, dehydration, dirty hands, etc.
"Check out our new touch-recognizing doorknob! Training times may vary. We don't advise to put it on the bathroom door for at least a week after the purchase."

Definitly news for nerds... (1)

masteva (996554) | about 2 years ago | (#39957761)

I so want this so I can turn my kitchen table into a giant touchscreen for D&D games! Would make the battles soooooooooooooo much faster!

Re:Definitly news for nerds... (1)

Guidii (686867) | about 2 years ago | (#39959173)

Hmmm. I don't think the sensor described here would work for you, because it doesn't detect where the touches happen.

I've been building an FTIR [nuigroup.com] based tabletop for my D&D games....

Hmmmm... (2)

anom (809433) | about 2 years ago | (#39957833)

So somebody else correct me if I'm wrong here, but on a dramatic number of their demonstrations it looked like they didn't have much more data than the amount my which their curve was shifted -- only in a few instances did it really change shape dramatically.

Moreover, it appeared as if the amount of the shift of the curve was directly proportional to how much the object was being touched. Part of me wonders if they were really essentially calibrating these "gestures" based upon the amount of contact with the device in question. E.g., two fingers will of course result in more contact than one, but less than an entire palm. The whole "we can detect how the object is being grasped" thing seemed contrived.

Not that it wasn't cool -- there are definitely uses for this -- but it doesn't seem to me like they're getting quite as much data as they seem to be implying.

Re:Hmmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39958865)

I had noticed the same thing. It seems to me that all they are measuring is the surface area of a touch, and then just selecting a set of interactions that produce different contact surface areas.

Re:Hmmmm... (1)

Comrade Ogilvy (1719488) | about 2 years ago | (#39960783)

Yes, it is still detecting capacitance, and surface area is the primary factor. So theoretically a large amount of contact with one finger might look like two fingers. Note that they only demonstrate 1, 2, 5.

I've look at and anaylised the data related to ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39958621)

And I gotta say, I think it's a Mickey Mouse®© solution.

Not Disney! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39958937)

Disney is one of the worst examples of Corporate Morals that comes to mind. For a good read, try "the mouse that roared". Things do not bode well for this technology given its owner.

A touchscreen you say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39961173)

My associates would like to know, whether these touchscreens have, by any chance, rounded corners..

Anything can be a touchscreen...except most things (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 2 years ago | (#39962443)

Neither the author nor the submitter RTFA when they developed the title - it clearly states that surfaces must be conductive, which is an awfully long way from "anything". The article even mentions smart couches, but then goes on to say saying workarounds are required - non-conductive items must be coated with something conductive.

Stupid non-tech journalists writing tech articles.

A couple of years away from production... (1)

advocate_one (662832) | about 2 years ago | (#39963891)

But you can bet your bottom dollar that those gestures are being patented right now... "A method of unlocking a door based on gesture recognition", "A method of xxxxxxx using gesture recognition"

The real patentable thing here is the multi-frequency touch sensor itself... the uses that spring from it should not be patentable...

already done (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39977533)

http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html

Only one broom... (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about 2 years ago | (#39982009)

Mickey created just the one "broom golem." But then he found there was no way to stop it. So, he tried chopping it up. Then the pieces of the the broom turned into an army of "Broom Golems" that he still couldn't control.

It was all quite horrifying really... not something you'd want to replicate in real life...

Well, I mean I would, but that's because I'm quite mad, you see... hahaha... hehe... HAHAHAHA...

Check for New 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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...