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Using Magnets To Interact With Your Tablet

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the I-mostly-use-gravity-instead dept.

Input Devices 64

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from MAKE's blog: "Tangible interface designer and inventor Andrea Bianchi, along with his colleague, Ian Oakley (University of Madeira / Carnegie Mellon Europe), have come with a novel approach to interacting with a mobile device. Using the magnetometer built into most modern smartphones, Bianchi and Oakley have created a series of tangible user interface demonstrations that go beyond what's achievable with capacitive touch displays."

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64 comments

It's 2012 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819787)

And we still don't know how they work...

Re:It's 2012 (1, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820565)

Uh, you DO realize that there is *infinite* knowledge right? ;-) That should not be interpreted as a negative, but as a positive -- we will ALWAYS have something neat to learn about the Universe and ourselves!

Just because Scientist don't have a clue what causes gravity, causes magnetism, what happens when you travel faster then the speed of light, still ignorant of white holes, still haven't discovered the 2 remaining fundamental forces doesn't mean that someday we won't. As long as we are progressing towards removing the (remaining) holes of ignorance in our entire knowledge base that is good.

Besides, learning how we discovery the answers is far more important then what the answers are themselves. :-)

Re:It's 2012 (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820993)

Some clowns will never understand :)

Re:It's 2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41821343)

you totally missed the joke there.

Re:It's 2012 (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41821727)

still haven't discovered the 2 remaining fundamental forces

If you know for sure that there are exactly two of them, why do you call them undiscovered?

Re:It's 2012 (0)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41824751)

Because eventually they will be. :-)

I say that for two reasons:

First, history teaches us this.

a) America was "discovered" by the Europeans even though there was _already_ natives living on it. From the POV of the natives America was "known", from the POV of of the Europeans it was "discovered."

b) At one point the majority of people thought that the earth was flat. (Even some sailors knew this was total nonsense due to seeing a ship's mast way off in the distance; Eratosthenes estimated the circumference of earth anywhere between 2% and 16% error.) Now what if a person knew that the earth was a sphere but didn't calculate it nor tell others, this fact would be "undiscovered" until it became "common knowledge."

Let me ask you a tangential question: How many people are required before subjective truth becomes objective truth? One person? Two people? 50 people? 1 billion? (Don't confuse the fact that truth is independent of repeatability.)

Second, a man could know all the secrets of the universe, however, if they are not known (or recognized) by society in general then for all intents and purposes _effectively_ they are undiscovered _until_ such time when they are generally accepted and known.

Let me provide you with an two real examples:

* Humans are not alone. In (roughly) 20 years this will be _common_ knowledge. Right now this is "curiosity for a few, mere speculation for many; total nonsense for others." Only a few people are even a) aware, and b) know the answer. Heck, even 50 years ago this was thought nonsense! Thankfully cooler heads prevailed, and logic won out: We dared to calculate this answer and now scientists have the Drake Equation to say: "You know, this question (and answer) isn't nonsense like we used to think. This might be a real possibility!" Currently we lack hard, physical evidence to appease the die-hard skeptic, but he will get his day. That is a promise. ;-)

* The current estimate for the age of the universe is a *significantly* off. As scientists discover white holes, see the energy transfer/exchange between black holes and white holes, and see how the remaining two missing fundamental forces interact they will slowly revise their number.

So in the context of the general population many things are "undiscovered" or "unknown".

I would point out though that the *time* frame of "when" things are discovered is mostly irrelevant. The much more interesting question is how will society change when we receive answers to questions that we've been asking since the dawn of time?

The beauty is that in the worst case this is just some ramblings of a mad man and you can ignore him. But if these things do pass, and when I've long been gone, this will be a record of "How the hell did he even know these things before every one else??"

Bringing this back on topic: Believe it or not, Science is not actually about Truth; Science is one way, a very successful method mind you, to remove ignorance. However, there is _another_ way to know truth. Science is just the "backup" way to replace "faith" with "knowledge". ;-)

Re:It's 2012 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41826565)

You got all that from "Europeans discover American Indians"?

Re:It's 2012 (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41833321)

I am sorry you don't have basic reading comprehension skills. I was only using them as an _example_. I know many things about the past and future that have yet to be (re)discovered; I was simple explaining _why_ I use the term discovered.

Re:It's 2012 (1)

Bitsy Boffin (110334) | about a year and a half ago | (#41828383)

"Uh, you DO realize that there is *infinite* knowledge right?"

Hmmm. I wonder if that is the case actually. Seriously, IS the conjecture that there is infinite knowledge provable, or is it possible there is a finite but very large amount of potential knowable things.

I used to... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819815)

Shove magnets up my dog's butt.

Re:I used to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41821337)

Then I will staple stronger magnets to your face.

The Point (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819817)

I thought the point of having a touch device was to get away from interface indirection through accessories?

Link to sample app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819839)

Hey, can anyone suggest any sample apps I can try this out with on my iPad?

Re:Link to sample app? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819953)

RTFA - he hasn't released any apps and this was done on android in a couple of days, something that wouldn't have been possible with an ipeed.

Well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819845)

How will they work?

Re:Well? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820435)

Magic.

Suggest apps to try this with? (1)

balaam's ass (678743) | about a year and a half ago | (#41819929)

Can anyone suggest any sample apps that will make use of an internal magnetometer?

Re:Suggest apps to try this with? (2)

arctus (2753027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820011)

The first thing that occurred to me was games for children who may be too young to interact with only a touchscreen.

I mean, if you can make anything an input device regardless of whether it has a circuit in it, I guess you can dream up a lot. I'm just not brainstorming well today or something.

Re:Suggest apps to try this with? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41821913)

What kind of child is too young to use a touchscreen? A fetus?

Buy this instead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41819961)

Cheaper, lasts for months on a charge, virtually indestructible, totally magnetic interface:

http://www.toysrus.co.uk/Toys-R-Us/Learning/Creative-Play/Blue-Magnetic-Drawing-Board(0081520)

Ironic (1)

arctus (2753027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41819971)

So we make touchscreens so we can use only our hands for natural interfaces....and then create things to put in our hands again?

Re:Ironic (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820051)

In two years we'll all be using a stylus with a tiny touchpad on the end, and the tablet will balance on a trackball.

Re:Ironic (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#41822379)

Quiet. You will give Apple and Idea and they will produce a product then patent a circus on a phone or on a tablet. Then all the geeks will demand on as soon as their old stuff gets 2 months old.

Re:Ironic (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820065)

seems to have worked for Samsung Galaxy Note with the plastic stylus...

Re:Ironic (1)

arctus (2753027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820161)

That's right, I remember my mother-in-law saying she really wanted the Note for that exact reason.

It'll be interesting to see if more physical interface/touchscreen options gain popularity.

Re:Ironic (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820167)

seems to have worked for Samsung Galaxy Note with the plastic stylus...

The multitude of companies making money selling cheap styluses for other android and apple touchscreen devices are also doing it.

Re:Ironic (1)

CCarrot (1562079) | about a year and a half ago | (#41822487)

seems to have worked for Samsung Galaxy Note with the plastic stylus...

The multitude of companies making money selling cheap styluses for other android and apple touchscreen devices are also doing it.

Sure...if you like writing with a squishy crayon. I prefer my pens actually pointy, k thx.

Re:Ironic (1)

smi.james.th (1706780) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820225)

How does the stylus work though? I've tried it on other devices and their touchscreens don't respond at all...

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820073)

So we make touchscreens so we can use only our hands for natural interfaces....and then create things to put in our hands again?

The ultimate downfall of any attempts to improve the APIs to the human race: we need something in our hand to chew on.

Re:Ironic (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year and a half ago | (#41822477)

Interestingly, this might be a practical thing. It was about 40 degrees F in my areas yesterday. The girl working the outdoor market had to keep removing her glove to use the touch screen on the register and even then, the cold caused it to not function as effectively as she was used to it. A magnetic stylus (if it was compatible) would have been ideal for her in that specific type of situation. Rubber pads on the gloves solved the issues with trying to count money and this was the only other reason she needed to remove them.

Re:Ironic (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820337)

We can't have cool for the sake of cool. OK I can't think of any practical use. It doesn't mean there will never be one. Just shoing it can be done, allows for imitation to start on how to use it.

Re:Ironic (1)

arctus (2753027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820781)

I think I should have used a /sarcasm at the end of my post, it was mostly meant in humor. I think there's definitely potential, but you have to admit the irony here.

Magnets (1)

Alapisco (2763473) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820153)

Fucking magnets, how do they work?

Re:Magnets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820237)

Doesn't matter, magnets that are engaged in fucking produce no offspring.

Re:Magnets (1)

ChefJeff789 (2020526) | about a year and a half ago | (#41821027)

I think he's secretly Magneto. He's the only one I know of who can control electromagnetic field strength and direction, which is generally described by a field effect of electrical charges, both in motion (magnetic) and at rest (electric). Of course, Science may tell us something different, but the Marvel Universe and Science don't generally agree well. I'll take the Marvel Universe any day...

A child's toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820245)

There's no practical use for this. I'm sure some retard will bring up some use for it that can be handled with cheaper electronics that are more reliable. This is nothing but a child's toy.

Re:A child's toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820333)

This is nothing but a child's toy.

I think we just found a new slogan for apple.

Re:A child's toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41821501)

This is nothing but a child's toy.

I think we just found a new slogan for apple.

There's a name for both comments: Hater

Hey... slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820707)

Can i get a spam story posted to drive traffic to my site too?

Lets see..

"using a hammer to interact with your tablet" Sure.. sounds just as valid. i always carry hammers and a magnet when im using my tablets.

But what about Magnet Radiation ? (1)

john.willis1 (2759567) | about a year and a half ago | (#41820821)

Space 1999 blew up the Moon with radioactive Fusion waste on the dark side and "Magnetic Radiation". Funny I know.. but there actually is an Oersted effect that influences the hemoglobin molecule in blood. We don't live within range of a Magnetar (Stellar Corpse with Teslas of magnetic energy) but you get the idea. A funny mental picture is "you" glued to your touch pad because you can't get your fingers off the magnet "surface".

Tablet, some game app, and a car toy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41820827)

I saw a commercial that was showing a kid playing a racing game on a tablet, being controlled by a special car toy with three circular sensors underneath it. I wouldn't be surprised if this is one example of such use.

Useful while using laptops near high field magnets (2)

vigour (846429) | about a year and a half ago | (#41821119)

I used to use the magnetometer in my HTC Legend to measure the field outside a 5 T superconducting magnet. Of course I had proper magnetometers in the lab, but it was convenient being able to use my phone.
Some of the relays in a device I used were very sensitive to magnetic fields, plus I didn't the HD in my laptop to get screwed up. It was linear up to +/- 2 mT which was enough for a solenoid type superconducting magnet (i.e. the normal kind), and it allowed me move my devices closer to the magnet, and shorten my cables.

Very useful indeed.

Alternate use (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41821967)

I prefer to use magnets to interact with my hard drive disk.

Inductive charge anyone. (1)

epSos-de (2741969) | about a year and a half ago | (#41825183)

This is great for round based games. The magnets could be great input devices, but what about the loss of memory and inductive charging ?

Magnets and displays, was a no no (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year and a half ago | (#41826409)

I was brought up that magnets and displays don't go hand in hand. Of course, for most my life the displays were CRT based.

So this is pretty cool, imo.

Interaction Design in Education and Research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41827701)

Nice work! We have been working on this technique for quite some time and even had a demonstrator at this years ACM CHI 2012 called Mobile ActDresses. It is a wonderful hack that students can use for quickly exploring various concepts. Its cheap, ubiquitous and very easy to get up and running with just a few lines of code.

http://dl.lirec.org/papers/Jacobsson_CHI2012_Interactivity.pdf

Great idea, until your magnetometer fails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41827933)

I had the same idea, and now my iPhone's compass doesn't work. Either the magnetometer failed or my case is now magnetically charged. Either way, a bad idea for user interfaces.

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