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$5 Sensor Turns LCD Monitors Into Touchscreens

timothy posted about a year ago | from the later-comes-the-voice-control dept.

Input Devices 98

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from ExtremeTech: "Researchers at the University of Washington's aptly named Ubiquitous Computing Lab can turn any LCD monitor in your house into a touchscreen, with nothing more than a $5 sensor that plugs into the wall and some clever software." The system works by measuring changes that your hand creates in the electromagnetic signature of the monitor. Surprisingly, it offers some pretty fine-grained detection, too: "full-hand touch, five-finger touch, hovering above the screen, pushing, and pulling." The "$5 sensor" part is mostly theoretical for now to those of us who don't live in a lab, though; on the other hand, "co-author Sidhant Gupta tells Technology Review that the $5 sensor uses off-the-shelf parts, and the algorithms are included in the paper, so it would be fairly easy for you — or a commercial entity — to recreate the uTouch system."

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98 comments

i prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43558905)

a $5 shake

Re:i prefer (5, Funny)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year ago | (#43559885)

I just touched my 27 inch LCD monitor and it was a bad experience. The screen looked like it deformed and pushing liquid to the side. Plus it left a greasy fingerprint. I wouldn't buy this thing for $5 or 5 cents.

Re:i prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43561367)

So add a $2 hard-shell screen protector.

Seriously. That is not a difficult problem to engineer around.

Re:i prefer (1)

BeansBaxter (918704) | about a year ago | (#43561485)

Or better yet stop trying to add touch screen to a desktop computer. Even a laptop doesn't need it. There are plenty of places where it makes sense. This is not one of them. Finger prints and interfering with what is on the screen ( transparent arms don't exist yet ) make it seem useless to me. Yes pleas add motion sensor to my keyboard ( where my hands are already ) but don't ask me to keep reaching for a remote screen to do things I can already do easily enough or even easier with existing technology.

Re:i prefer (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43565823)

I can see it being useful though it shouldn't be the primary means of input. I'd not say that it doesn't belong on the desktop but I'd say that it is not the best method for long term data input and data manipulation. An example where this could be valuable would be someone walking over to your computer and wanting to show you something to ask you a question. They could reach out, "grab" something, and drag it to another area of the screen for example. So, in a limited example where you sometimes have more than one person at a monitor it would be easier for this (and better, I think - perhaps, depending) than for them to grab your mouse or keyboard.

It certainly isn't the best and I am not sure anyone is advocating it as the soul source. But, I think it as a stretch to say it doesn't belong. I'd say it isn't a requirement (or the best method for input and manipulation) but it could come in handy for some people. If $5 speeds up collaboration then I'm all for it.

Re:i prefer (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43562079)

Some people want to hate touch, even when it becomes just another cheap component. To me, its like 3D. Its nice to have, and I enjoy it from time to time, but its not a premium item and it better be cheap/free AND not take away from more important functionality.

Re:i prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43564757)

I'm not sure that's true. A lot of people myself included want to like touch. But hate it.

Don't get me wrong - you'll pry my touchscreen phone, microwave, etc out of my cold, dead fingers. ATM's. POS terminals. Plenty places where touchscreens greatly enhance the device. But touchscreen on a standard PC or Laptop is fucking useless, frankly. This isn't just 'hate', it's from having experienced owning and using both a touchscreen laptop and a touchscreen monitor connected to a pc and goes all the way back to the HP150 touchscreen - where *everybody* preferred to use the keyboard function keys to the screen's virtual function keys, after the first half hour of novelty wore off. It was like - "I have a perfectly good function key right at my fingertips, why the fuck do I keep reaching up to press the one on the screen??!"

Re:i prefer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43566015)

I just touched my 27 inch LCD monitor and it was a bad experience. The screen looked like it deformed and pushing liquid to the side. Plus it left a greasy fingerprint. I wouldn't buy this thing for $5 or 5 cents.

Wash your hands. Please.

Re:i prefer (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43569029)

I think some people just have oily skin. I can wash my hands like a surgeon but if I touch a glass 15 minutes later ... greasy fingerprint.

Re:i prefer (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#43568367)

Another man who doesn't know the difference between touch and push.

You should get the device. It'll help you practice for that mythical future when a woman might allow you to 'touch' her.

chance for microsoft (4, Interesting)

postmortem (906676) | about a year ago | (#43558971)

Because otherwise nobody would pay extra for a touch screen PC with Windows 8

Re:chance for microsoft (2)

donaldm (919619) | about a year ago | (#43563911)

Because otherwise nobody would pay extra for a touch screen PC with Windows 8

Actually you are quite right and the product may be very practical for monitors or even HD TV's that don't have touch/gesture capability. The problem I have had with all touch screens is actually the finger marks left on them and for larger screen monitors cleaning becomes an annoyance. A friend of mine recently purchased a Samsung 15.6 in notebook and no surprises it came with MS Windows 8, however this notebook does not have a touch screen and using the display with a mouse IMHO is odd since the main display consists of horribly designed tiles.

I know many will disagree with my observation of MS Windows 8 but I personally like an uncluttered desktop on a large screen although I am quite happy with the IMHO nicely designed icons of the iPhone and Android machines, but tiles (again my opinion) ugh!

It's good to know (1)

highphilosopher (1976698) | about a year ago | (#43559027)

They looked at all options before selling touchscreens for massive amounts of money. Oh wait...

Re:It's good to know (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43559547)

The resolution of this is actually pretty low, it can detect gestures and proximity but the authors say not enough accuracy to type an email. Of course, being able to do some basic gestures for $5 sounds like a pretty neat hack, especially considering they've posted their COTs parts and algorithms.

Re:It's good to know (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43561525)

Does it actually detect gestures, or does it really just measure the approximate size of the object pressed against the screen?

The LCD monitor will make a lousy touchscreen (5, Insightful)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#43559033)

It's not really designed to have your finger smashing against it. It better have a hard surface.

Re:The LCD monitor will make a lousy touchscreen (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559545)

Some of things can be responsive to having a finger mashed against them and not sustain damage, even if they are soft and unprotected with a hard shell.

Just ask your girlfriend.

Re:The LCD monitor will make a lousy touchscreen (5, Funny)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about a year ago | (#43559653)

Some of things can be responsive to having a finger mashed against them and not sustain damage, even if they are soft and unprotected with a hard shell.

Just ask your girlfriend.

Think again about where you're posting this.

Re:The LCD monitor will make a lousy touchscreen (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#43560423)

Maybe the guy has access to a prototype RealDoll with a voice recognition and AI module.

Re:The LCD monitor will make a lousy touchscreen (1)

egr (932620) | about a year ago | (#43559743)

I cannot even reach my monitors from where I am sitting.

Re:The LCD monitor will make a lousy touchscreen (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43562631)

There are LCD monitors with a hard surface. I'm using one right now.

Very Cool (2)

SpamSauce (2908419) | about a year ago | (#43559127)

Hopefully someone makes this a commercial product. I would gladly pay $20 for this.

Re:Very Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559267)

Something that has a response time of 1 or 2 seconds???

Two words (5, Interesting)

hugortega (721079) | about a year ago | (#43559145)

Gorilla Arm ... Well, more ... Why people still believe that desktop computers are good as a touch device? That makes no sense for me, specially because the ugly fingerprints hehe. I love to *work* on my dual head desktop because the speed of keyboard and big resolution. If I have to use a touch device, it's not for work and not on a desktop, really. Anyway, nice research, I have to say.

Re:Two words (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#43559207)

Gorilla Arm ...

Well, more ...

Why people still believe that desktop computers are good as a touch device? That makes no sense for me, specially because the ugly fingerprints hehe. I love to *work* on my dual head desktop because the speed of keyboard and big resolution. If I have to use a touch device, it's not for work and not on a desktop, really.

Anyway, nice research, I have to say.

The first thing that popped into my head was more effective TV controls. Standard IR remotes can only do so much (being low power, needing hard/durable buttons, etc) and are great for vol-up/dn or pause/play, but if there were a way to do some of the more complex interaction on screen it would make the experience overall a lot better (at least until the TV can just know what i am thinking about watching). I use a variety of media devices and being able to just tap on the content i want to see, or type out a simple search now and then, would be really nice.

Re:Two words (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#43559511)

why do you need a TV control? You already have a smartphone.

Re:Two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559761)

Because the smartphone has an always-on network connection, and a camera and a microphone. What if I don't want information about my television habits inadvertantly leaking into other parts of my life? Especially when it might be some god awful thing like a facebook phone, where you've already made the mistake of buying into a device that has only one purpose: to leak all of your information into the public sphere whether people want to know about it or not.

Re:Two words (1)

hobarrera (2008506) | about a year ago | (#43574603)

What if I don't want information about my television habits inadvertantly leaking into other parts of my life?

Easy: just use software you can trust on your smartphone.

Re:Two words (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43559259)

That makes no sense for me, specially because the ugly fingerprints hehe..

"full-hand touch, five-finger touch, hovering above the screen, pushing, and pulling."

The part that intrigues me is that it can be used in a touchless manner. This has excellent potential for cheap kiosks, LCD windows, etc.

My question is: they appear to be giving away the information for free... so is it patented?

Re:Two words (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43561589)

It's possible it's something that cannot be covered by patents due to prior art. This is really just an implementation of Van Eck phreaking [wikipedia.org], but instead of picking up the display signal, they're using it to pick up interference to the TFT matrix.

Re:Two words (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#43561903)

I recall a student from, I believe Texas A&M (not sure at all) that designed what sounds to be like a very similar device. I think I came across the video from something he had listed on Kickstarter... or maybe it was a TED video... I really can't remember.

Point is, this has already been done before.

Re:Two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43563857)

"The part that intrigues me is that it can be used in a touchless manner. This has excellent potential for.."
ooh, like a touchless car wash, only with um, messy body fluids!

Re:Two words (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559327)

My large monitor is at the back of the desk, and I can't even reach it without leaning over the keyboard, which would make for an enormously awkward touchscreen. I also hate having any fingerprints or smudges on my screen. I also hat having a screen that doubles as a mirror. I also hate gorilla arm. (And I helped develop a touchscreen-based point-of-sale system, so I have plenty of experience with them, so my dislike of them is not based on a lack of experience.)

Re:Two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43560297)

Cause an entire town in Washington tells 'em so?

Re:Two words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43561489)

Touch will nt be good for doing all of your moves on a desktop, but it wont be bad for some moves. Its not like touch has to replace the mice, it can just be an addition to it. Certain things could be a lot easier with touch, for example zooming in on a specific part of a text, some basic picture editing. The pc is better than most other devices because it doesn't limit the input devices available.

Re:Two words (1)

hot soldering iron (800102) | about a year ago | (#43574345)

I don't know. When I use my tablet with keyboard in class I don't have a mouse, I just touch a screen location and continue on. It actually feels very natural. It takes a little getting used to again to use a mouse with my laptop. I mean, what's more intuitive that pointing at where you want to go?

Now, sometimes I want a mouse for certain tasks, like navigating around in apps or games, but having more options available is always awesome. Even better would be a 3-D touch display with Kinect on a tablet with a spaceball input device. Full 3-D input and output, with touch, doesn't preclude the use of normal 2-D input and output.

Touch screen or big button? (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43559179)

Is there any indication this will ever be able to detect position, as opposed to just the size and duration of something in proximity to the monitor?

Re:Touch screen or big button? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43559277)

Don't know but I can imagine hw manufacturers adding some kind of sensitivity multipliers or other cheap hardware to a flatscreen's elecrical feed during construction to do detailed proximity analysis, thus doing away with a proper touchscreen altogether.

Re:Touch screen or big button? (3, Informative)

theIsovist (1348209) | about a year ago | (#43560031)

I was fortunate enough to see all the work that these guys are pursuing (there's some really fun energy monitoring that they've developed, using only a single device to monitor a whole house). From what it sounds like, the sensing systems are very low resolution, useful for exactly what you said. Is something there and how big is it? As the system is just noticing a flux in energy when your hand interacts with the field given off by the monitor, they (when they spoke with us a few months ago) said it seemed unlikely.

Fun fact though, they've used the same technology to monitor the fields generated by the lights in a room, so you can actually gain a picture of movement in the room based off of only the flux in the lights' power draws. Again, this is very low resolution, but you don't always need every system to be high res.

Re:Touch screen or big button? (1)

kermidge (2221646) | about a year ago | (#43568261)

Being able to get good info from changes in light bulbs, for instance, means among other things a great boost for doing some interesting surveillance. Spike a building with a few of the sensors, see where people are; combine that with the short-wave stuff we have, a few other off-the-shelf items, one could gain a complete "picture" of the interior. This could help in hostage situations I imagine. Or big brother.

These Ubiqitous Computing Lab folks and others are doing some fascinating work. True geeks.

Re:Touch screen or big button? (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#43562713)

All I want is a monitor that retracts when someone try to put its finger on it to show me something. Extra points if it detects the level of greasiness.

Re:Touch screen or big button? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43565393)

thank you for encoding humour thorugh the net. i enjoyed a jolly old raff at that.

This is NOT a REAL touchscreen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559205)

This only detects 5 gestures and is not a full touch screen where it detects touches at different parts of the screen...

It can still be usefully for some applications but it is not a replacement for a touchscreen...

slow? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559281)

Is it just me or does this screen look like it's response time is quite slow. If that's the case it's currently not very useful for most applications.

Battery (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43559319)

My first idea was that it should work even better in battery power devices, where the only device that uses power is the notebook/cellphone/whatever that uses lcd or display tech similar enough. But in the other hand, CPU/GPU/disk/fan etc also weights there. And shouldn't be them a factor in desktop PCs too?

Espionage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559373)

I wonder if this could be added to an existing touch screen monitor or ATM monitor to steal user input? If anyone has any information on how to do that, I would be *very* interested. TIA.

Backwards (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#43559375)

I won't buy one of these until it PAYS me $5 every time I touch it. I really have no desire to touch my monitor.

Re:Backwards (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#43562745)

The sensor could be used to make the monitor move backward when a finger is approaching. There are valid uses... we just need to be creative.

Good bomb trigger (2)

gb7djk (857694) | about a year ago | (#43559483)

Set one of these up, together with some surveillance, train the device to recognise the mark and where he is (in conjunction with the now mandatory CFL bulbs as well as the tv and computer screens) and when you gets to just the right place - let off the shaped charge. It's clean, capable of discerning whether there is any collateral damage potential (and wait until the mark is alone) and economical as well (only use just the charge you need).

Re:Good bomb trigger (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#43559905)

I'm not sure bombs are a good assassination tool. Too many traceable parts.

Re:Good bomb trigger (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43565895)

Making two bombs with the same equipment is too many traceable parts as well as testing your bombs in an area that can be tied to yourself.

That's what I have learned from watching television. I haven't any real desire to build bombs. As a kid we used to make explosives and I don't think it was illegal then. These days even those soda bottle, aluminum foil, and toilet bowl cleaner "bombs" are considered illegal. Now that I am an adult and the laws have changed - I can buy fireworks. However, as a kid I'd have been in a lot of trouble if I'd been caught AND it was today.

We used to use black powder and emptied out BB gun CO2 cartridges. We'd use a waterproof (green) wick. They'd put a giant hole in the ground, throw shrapnel around, and do all sorts of wonderful things like lift up cast iron bathtubs. They were awesome.

As an adult I'd go to PMITA prison for that today. As a kid I'd end up going to juvenile hall for it (for an insanely long time - like a couple of years in the most recent case that I saw and that was for the above mentioned soda bottle bomb). Hell, one of the kids who made it with me was a cop's kid - we'd have to bring home a few for his dad to play with. His dad also had reloading equipment and a class 3 (I think that's the one) FFL so he could have fully automatic weapons which were a good deal of fun.

I don't know if it is post 9/11 or if it was before that but, at some point, someone tried to make life safe and making it safe made it less fun. I'd not even consider making one now simply because I don't know what the penalty is but I'm positive it is higher than I want to pay.

Gorilla arm is bad! (1, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#43559491)

This is bad, who wants gorilla arm from using their monitor? Monitors weren't designed to be touch interfaces for very good reasons. Unless your at a kiosk or a tablet, it's just not practical to use your arms that way. Leave gorilla arm to the 800 pound gorilla that is Steve Ballmer and Microsoft.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

Shados (741919) | about a year ago | (#43559651)

As you said, kiosk...conference rooms, presentations, monitors embedded in a desk, designer-style monitor stands (the low, bent ones that let you look at the monitor from overhead), to quickly check your emails in the morning without sitting down...

Basically, to recycle older monitors and give them new purpose, or any situation where touch would be nice, but you wouldnt be willing to pay more than 10 bucks for it. There's a lot of these scenarios.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559711)

As you said, kiosk...conference rooms, presentations, monitors embedded in a desk, designer-style monitor stands (the low, bent ones that let you look at the monitor from overhead), to quickly check your emails in the morning without sitting down...

This works like tempest, by picking out a signal traveling in the power line. They talk about using a plug across the room. You'd have to retrain this thing every few hours in an office building or commercial space.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559709)

gorilla arm is a lousy excuse to throw touchscreen out the window. no one said that you'd be have to hold your arm up the entire time. sometime for quick navigation, it's much faster to use touch, but you can easily transition to whatever mode fits what you want to do at the point in time. that's why its in movies all the time. why have someone fumble with some devices when you can just have them swipe the screen real fast? apparently, people here always clamor about options, unless its an extra option that Microsoft has given before anyone else. then it's just considered a bad idea without any actual consideration. i enjoy windows 8 and have it on a non-touchscreen device. i've cause myself once or twice trying to scroll it on the screen. apparently my subconcious decided "touch is more suitable than mouse at this point" even though it failed to realize i wasn't on my Surface RT (with touch) instead of my Dell Precision (w/o touch). So sometimes touch is useful. sometimes it's not. having the choice and being able to decide from situation to situation is a great idea. When i'm on the road and its in my lap, its much faster to use touch instead of fumbling with a mouse or trackpad. if i'm at a desk, its like 70/30 mouse & keyboard to touchscreen (or just 100% mouse & keyboard if its my dell).

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (2)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43560003)

I've been stting here wondering how on earth anyone could claim that touching the screen is faster or more convenient than a "mouse".

It has just dawned on me why - most of you people use an actual mouse. I use a trackball.

When I see "mouse" in instructions or in these discussions I subconciously translate to "trackball" for my own situation. But here the difference really matters. With a flick of my thumb I can spin my trackball and move across the screen much faster and with far less effort than someone can move their whole arm, or mouse. Even if the mouse does not first run up against the edge of the mouspad or that pile of books.

Just as a trial, I just waved my arm around my screen as if I were using touch. It's lousy, no way would I prefer to that to a trackball, even ignoring the greasy screen issue.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#43560781)

Clearly, your mental conception of "mouse" hasn't changed from the offerings of the 90s optical wheel with rolling ball kind. The kind that required picking the mouse up, and repositioning it (several times) to get across the desktop.

You can turn a modern optical mouse's sensitivity up to the point where a simple twitch of the wrist is able to achieve this same result. I know, because I set the sensitivity up that high for just that reason. I hate trackballs, because I can't achieve the same degrees of interaction that I can with a modern optical mouse. (Like multiclick hold downs + drag)

Would I buy something that lets me use a normal monitor like a touch screen? Sure! It would make a great addition to a MAME arcade cabinet, especially the "Pacman" style "lounge table" cabinet kind (which work better in a family room anyway.) It would make ROM selection much easier.

(A trackball would suffer the same issues that the trackballs in real 80s acrade cabinets had: getting funk all up inside them, having the sensors wear out, and all that fun.)

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43565921)

Even on the old ball mice you could adjust the mouse properties in the speed section and not have to pick up the mouse to traverse the screen. I thought everybody did this? That's what the speed adjusted in the control panel applets/settings even on ball mice. LOL One of my first moves in setting up a PC was to turn the mouse speed up a couple of notches.

I'm not sure if the default speed has changed or if the advent of more refined mice changed it but I know that, today, I don't HAVE to make any adjustments to the mouse speed to do that any more and it is one of my later configuration changes and those changes are but a single notch of speed increase typically. Same with a track pad although I had to slow the earlier track pads down but I think that was a matter of me getting used to it as I no longer turn it down. But, well, you could.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43569917)

Even on the old ball mice you could adjust the mouse properties in the speed section and not have to pick up the mouse to traverse the screen.

Not everyone likes it like that. I tend to set the sensitivity pretty high - a couple of inches on the mouse for the full width of the screen. I hate acceleration, flick and all that garbage and turn it off as soon as I can find how to.

A few times I've had people go "Whoooah" when they're using my machine; they lose the cursor, it moves much faster than they expect. If they're using it for more than a few clicks it's worth turning the sensitivity down or they'll take all day, missing buttons, hitting wrong buttons, putting the cursor in the wrong window...

Some of us have a fine touch and others are just ham fisted.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43570903)

Absolutely and that's one of the benefits of having the applet to start with. It can be adjusted quite a bit and I've never met anyone who wasn't eventually able to find a setting where they were pretty well satisfied.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43572799)

Sure. But if you are badly coordinated - or you have some kind of disability - you're going to have to set the gain low (to reduce the noise) in which case you might have to do the "across, up and back" thing to reach the whole screen. Unless you have an A3 mouse mat. And long arms.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year ago | (#43572903)

Fortunately there are a lot of setting and options for pointing devices for those who suffer various handicaps though I suspect that, no matter what, we can not possibly have settings and equipment enough for the rarer cases. I'm reminded of the clit mouse. I used to crank the speed up on those and, after a while, got really adept at them to the point where those were faster for me than a touch pad would have been. (I used to buy only Toshiba laptops back then.)

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43566453)

Clearly, your mental conception of "mouse" hasn't changed from the offerings of the 90s ... You can turn a modern optical mouse's sensitivity up to the point where a simple twitch of the wrist is able to achieve this same result

I am well aware that mouse sensitivity can be changed. I do have to use a mouse sometimes, and of course I adjust the sensitivity of my trackball in exactly the same way. But you still need to move your forearm to move the mouse (not just wrist in my experince). I would compare a trackball vs mouse as like a bicycle vs tricycle (respectively). The mouse/trike is deceptively easier to use first time (it took me a couple of weeks to first "learn" a trackball - like learning to ride a bike), but once your reflexes are trained the trackball/bike is vastly superior in use.

(A trackball would suffer the same issues that the trackballs in real 80s acrade cabinets had: getting funk all up inside them, having the sensors wear out, and all that fun.)

WTF?! You seriously think that issues with amusment arcade controls are relevant to home use?! Don't know about you, but at home I do not spill coke over it, drop fag ash on it, stub my fag out on it, spit on it, stick chewing gum on it, or even (I've heard from arcade owners) have girls smear their menstrural discharge over it. As for "sensors wearing out" they are optical, seeing the ball rolling past. I have been using the same trackball for 12 years now. The very fact that trackballs are used for amusement arcade machines is a testament to their robustness.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43573005)

I use a trackball on my linux machine, mainly because when I was setting it up it was the first USB pointing device I could find that "just worked". For a while it drove me mad, in particular I had problems holding the button down when dragging. I realised that I was holding it wrong [did I violate any patents there?]; I was having to spread my thumb and little finger round the base unit to stop it sliding around - occasionally triggering the side buttons accidentally, and this was exacerbated by the fact that the unit is big and I have small hands.

Solution? A mousemat folded over so it has two grippy sides. Since then I've unpacked & found my conventional mice but not bothered swapping, because I'm happy with the ball.

FWIW, I have the gain set so its about 3/4 of a turn for the width of the screen. This gives enough precision for photo retouching and I can still get to any part of the screen with two dabs (or a dib and a dab).

As to cleaning, about once a month I pop the ball out, wipe it with a tissue and do the same for the cavity. Sorted, no drama.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43567983)

What are you talking about? I play a game called OSU and have my settings very high on a high dpi mouse. Even if I leave the game at x1.0 mouse speed I hardly have to move my hand.

I do not play with a mouse anymore since I figured out it's way more accurate to play on a graphics tablet, but still any decent mouse should move across the screen with a very small movement. I'd also mention I do not use mouse pointer precision since it sucks for FPS games.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year ago | (#43572685)

AC @ 16:43 wrote :-

What are you talking about? . Even if I leave the game at x1.0 mouse speed I hardly have to move my hand. ..... any decent mouse should move across the screen with a very small movement.

Not sure who you are replying to, or which side you are on in "touch" vs "mouse/trackball", but your comment underlines that waving an arm around a screen cannot be possibly be faster or more convenient than using either a mouse or a trackball.

I believe that the move of touchscreen tech out of the realm of small portable devices and kiosks to larger displays is part of the general dumbing down in human affairs. Retro-evolution cannot have occurred in just a generation, but it is an attitude (preceding real retro-evolution?), similar to "I refuse to read instructions!", "I do not want to use a scewdriver to open my PC case!" and "I do not wish to see any sign of how my IPod was made!". It is even like the Japanese uninventing the wheel in the 1400's, just as the green movement wishes us to uninvent many technologies today. The use of tools is one of the distinguishing features of higher animals, but there is a large section of society who consider it degrading to touch one, even a PC mouse, even if it means waving their arms like a demented monkey instead.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43559875)

Honestly, if using a touchscreen is enough to make a significant visible change in the muscle density of your arm, you really need to go outside. On the other hand, get the touchscreen, build up some arm muscles, and maybe a girl will actually look at you for once.

Re:Gorilla arm is bad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43560279)

Gorilla arm is a myth thought up by lazy skinny geek coders.

There are plenty of uses for this technology. No one is saying all mice will be thrown away in 2 weeks.

No spatial information (1)

djcooley (851603) | about a year ago | (#43559635)

This kind of implementation only allows the system to detect whether the screen was touched or not. There is no directional or spatial information; it is _not_ like a regular handset touchscreen. The applications for this technology are very, very limited in the PC arena. Security companies might want to know, though.

Keep your greasy fingers off my matte screen... (3, Funny)

dargaud (518470) | about a year ago | (#43559911)

...or I WILL punch you in the mouth. It's impossible to clean it up completely. Nor do I want to.

Re:Keep your greasy fingers off my matte screen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43572571)

1) Put screen horizontally
2) slightly wet handkerchief with dish soap - must not drip
3) another wet handkerchief to remove dish soap - must not drip either
4) Let dry (within seconds, or you put too much water), wipe water marks if present
5) Contrast !

The big question is... (1)

anyanka (1953414) | about a year ago | (#43560231)

...do you need fingers to operate it?

You see, I'm a parrot, and though touch screens are ok (if a little bothersome), I'm seriously annoyed at the Kinect on my new Xbox, which refuses to recognize my beak and toe movements. I wish people would just stick to keyboards; their wholesome nibblyness is superior to any other input device.

I don't get this (1)

smartin (942) | about a year ago | (#43560323)

Why on earth would people want to jam their fingers into their screens? If it is to have some gesture based control, a much better solution is a decent trackpad, which in effect works as a proxy for the screen but in a more ergonomic location.

Re:I don't get this (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#43568439)

I'm constantly suprised by the low intelligence and poor thinking abilities of people on slashdot AND their willingness to proudly proclaim their ignorance to everybody.

First, it's called 'touch'screen. This is not some new immersive technology where you jam your fingers into the screen.

As a simple use scenario, more than one person around a monitor.

Re:I don't get this (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43570047)

I'm constantly suprised[sic] by the low intelligence and poor thinking abilities of people on slashdot AND their willingness to proudly proclaim their ignorance to everybody.

Me too. Just now, in fact.

This is not some new immersive technology where you jam your fingers into the screen.

Some people appear to be trying, though.

As a simple use scenario, more than one person around a monitor.

Three cack-handed idiots all dabbing in total uncoordination. That wouldn't be irritating at all.

Re:I don't get this (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about a year ago | (#43570229)

Suprisingly, some people don't surround themselves with idiots. Those who don't think they have a choice deserve the company they keep.

Someone connected a theramin to a monitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43560421)

Big Deal...

http://www.linuxadvocates.com/p/support.html (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43560517)

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Money doesn't grow on trees. And, Linux Advocates is growing. Naturally, we anticipate operating costs and hope to be able to meet them.

But, any amount you feel you are able to donate in support of our ongoing work will be most surely appreciated and put to very good use. Your contributions keep Linux Advocates growing.

Show your support by making a donation today.

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Too much lag (1)

hashish16 (1817982) | about a year ago | (#43561479)

This is very cool and rather unique solution, but there is considerable lag between the input and the registration of the input. I don't see it being much useful beyond pause/play video or music or to wake up a computer from sleep. That being said, I love the spelling mistake in the powerpoint in the youtube video.

desk as a mouse (1)

carpefishus (1515573) | about a year ago | (#43562407)

To assuage the gorilla arm issue it seems this tech could be configured to make your desktop a large touch pad. A piece of desk glass and some thin wires.....

HF signals (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43563965)

It works by looking at HF signal on power lines. I though FCC regulations prevented devices from sending HF signals on power lines, but obviously it tolerates some remains.

I wonder how it can be used to extract informations from the computer: what is displayed, what key are pressed, what data is computed?

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$5 or parts (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a year ago | (#43564215)

the $5 sensor uses off-the-shelf parts, and the algorithms are included in the paper, so it would be fairly easy for you — or a commercial entity — to recreate the uTouch system and then pay a nice fat royalty to the patent owners for the next 20 years who won't surface until your product is successful.

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