While the humble touchscreen has become the standard interface for most smartphones, and capacitive displays make it a painless experience, the folk at start-up Qeexo think things could still be improved. It’s developed a technology called FingerSense that could add even more functionality. Essentially, by using a small acoustic sensor, it measures the vibrations as objects tap the screen, and can tell the difference between them. So, for example, a knuckle tap could be used for “right-click.” The tech is able to spot the difference between materials, too, so even when no finger is involved, it can register input, a great assistance to those with longer fingernails. The fun doesn’t stop there, though, with the demo video after the break showing a Galaxy SIII with a modified display, able to register stylus input, even without official support for it. More input options can never be a bad thing, and if nothing else, it could certainly make those GarageBand drumming sessions a little more interesting.
Self-healing surfaces are theoretically the perfect solutions to easily worn-out gadgets, but our dreams come crashing down as soon as deliberate contact is involved; as existing materials don’t conduct electricity, they can’t be used in capacitive touchscreens and other very logical places. If Stanford University’s research into a new plastic polymer bears fruit, though, our scratched-up phones and tablets are more likely to become distant memories. The material can heal within minutes of cuts through fast-forming hydrogen bonds, rivaling some of its peers, but also includes nanoscopic nickel particles that keep a current flowing and even respond to flexing or pressure. The material is uniquely built for the real world, too, with resilience against multiple wounds and normal temperatures. While the polymer’s most obvious use would be for mobile devices whose entire surface areas can survive the keys in our pockets, Stanford also imagines wires that fix themselves and prosthetic limbs whose skin detects when it’s bent out of shape. As long as we can accept that possible commercialization is years away, there’s hope that we eventually won’t have to handle our technology with kid gloves to keep it looking pretty.
The Big Apple is looking into upgrading its existing pay phones, and a pilot study is underway that replaces everyone’s favorite anachronism with something a little more 21st-century: giant touchscreens. According the NY Post, the city will unveil 250 revamped phone booths next month that have been revamped with 32-inch touchable displays. These access points would be set up for Skype and other video services, email, wi-fi access, and *11 numbers.
It’s ambitious, and depending on the execution could be a big step forward for public communication points. On the other hand, city dwellers are likely to be skeptical of the devices; smartphone owners will find no use for them, and pay phone users won’t know what to make of them. Are they really going to Skype their dealer?
I kid, but it really is kind of a strange proposition. These enormous screens (32 inches is quite large for a phone booth) will of course make whatever one is doing very public, though they helpfully double as ad screens when not in use. And part of the draw of payphones is the simplicity of their operation. You put in your money, you dial your number, and that’s that. Replacing a system that has the familiarity of decades is no simple task, and this huge screen might be overshooting the mark.
On the other hand, it could also be a great method to provide public wi-fi and information about local businesses — like London’s Smart Bins.” Tourists will almost certainly find them useful. And the smaller 22-inch subway ones will be helpful for navigating the city and announcing trains. But who is the average user of pay phones, and will they find this new system useful? Details are scarce now and only seeing and trying the new booths will tell.
The booths are being installed at no cost to the city, and after the pilot program, 36 percent of ad revenue will be handed over to them. And don’t worry, the screens are waterproof and dustproof, and will be cleaned regularly. No word on whether they’re hack-proof, however, though I can guess.
[image: ishane on Flickr]
Continue reading Atmel’s XSense promises curvy touchscreens that’ll ruin your shirt line (video)
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Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group has released a video comparing current touchscreen technology to its vision of where touch input delay needs to be: 1ms. Paul Dietz is part of the group that’s been conducting research into the area, and he says that 1ms is a great benchmark to aim for, as it reduces the lag between touch input and display response to a pretty much imperceptible level. Current touchscreens have a lag of around 100ms, according to Microsoft’s data, which results in a recognizable delay between your touch and the onscreen interaction you’re trying to activate. Although the demo from the Redmond team isn’t actually running on a touchscreen display — input reaction is projected onto the surface from above — the basic…
Portal Boxes Put You Inside The Screen, Render Touchscreens Archaic By Devin Chanda | Jan 4, 2012 | 10:23 am | Permalink Interactivity has yet to be fully realized despite touchscreens and the likes of the Xbox Kinect, but the student-built Portal box brings us closer—inside, actually. The box, resembling an old … Read more on Complex.com
Kinect-powered autonomous robots cook popcorn, make sandwiches They have created a pair of autonomous robots that are able to cook stovetop popcorn and prepare sandwiches using a Kinect sensor from Microsoft. Is there anything that peripheral can't do? Named James and Rosie, the remarkable thing about these two … Read more on GeekRelated Posts:
Continue reading Volvo unveils Concept You luxury sedan, dripping with touchscreens (video)
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The growing pains of being a small company dealing with big demand have bitten Notion Ink again, as the company has had to dish out a disappointing email to some Adam buyers informing them their delivery has been delayed to February 14th. The culprit in this sad case is a shipment of damaged touchscreens, which company chief Rohan Shravan estimates will affect just over five percent of all orders. Touchscreen supplier Sintek has promised to work through the Chinese New Year to refill that stock, so hopefully the bump back to Valentine’s Day will be the last, seemingly fitting, one for the Adam.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]
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Add another one to the (short) list of obscure things that slipped our net at CES. 3M, a company concerned with the materials and components that go into your delicious new gadgets, spent its time in Vegas this month discussing a new way for building capacitive touchscreen panels. By employing silver as its conducting material, 3M says it has made it possible to shrink the circuits at the edge of a touch panel by a whole order of magnitude, resulting in finger-friendly screens unhampered by bulky bezels. Additionally, due to silver’s high conductivity, response times have been shown to dip down as low as 6ms, which is ten times speedier than the currently used Indium Tin Oxide stuff. It’s arguable that neither advancement is revolutionary today, as bezels serve a purpose in providing a gripping surface for slate devices and touch responsiveness is currently constrained by software lag more than hardware capabilities, but 3M sure looks to have a nice building block for the future. The future being 2012, according to the company’s estimates.
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