Saturday, December 27, 2008

The reason why it is so hard to read texts on a screen


I have two monitors in my office - 22" and 19". They are big enough to show a single A4 document with its actual size. However, I always print out files when I need to study them carefully. I continuously have tried to be a member of Being Digital society, but frustratingly failed.

Today, Prof. Anne Mangen gives an answer to why it is so hard to read stuffs on monitors

Extremely simplified answer: Texts on a screen move and change themselves while those on a paper do not.


Reading is a multi-sensory activity, entailing perceptual, cognitive and motor interactions with whatever is being read. With digital technology, reading manifests itself as being extensively multi-sensory - both in more explicit and more complex ways than ever before. In different ways from traditional reading technologies such as the codex, digital technology illustrates how the act of reading is intimately connected with and intricately dependent on the fact that we are both body and mind - a fact carrying important implications for even such an apparently intellectual activity as reading, whether recreational, educational or occupational. This article addresses some important and hitherto neglected issues concerning digital reading, with special emphasis on the vital role of our bodies, and in particular our fingers and hands, for the immersive fiction reading experience.


Additional Readings (Updated)

[1] M. R. Morris, A. J. B. Brush, and B. R. Meyers, "Reading Revisited: Evaluating the Usability of Digital Display Surfaces for Active Reading Tasks," presented at Second Annual IEEE International Workshop on Horizontal Interactive Human-Computer System, 2007.

[2] N. Chen, F. Guimbretiere, M. Dixon, C. Lewis, and M. Agrawala, “Navigation techniques for dual-display e-book readers,” Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, Florence, Italy: ACM, 2008, pp. 1779-1788 [PDF].

Friday, December 26, 2008

TENORI-ON: an Electronic Musical Instrument


TENORI-ON is an electronic musical instrument that consists of 16 by 16 LED switches. It was first showed off at SIGGRAPH 2005 held in Los Angeles. For me, an interesting point is that the LED switches seem to sense human touch.

Compare TENORI-ON with a LED touch display from NYU.

TENORI-ON Multi-touch sensing through LED Matrix Displays

Apple's patent application suggest new multi-touch gestures for iPhone keyboard

US20080316183 iphone keyboard patent

[A block diagram of an exemplary swipe recognition system]

New iPhone may have additional touch gestures for its onscreen virtual keyboard, according to Apple's new patent application.









[Carriage Return]


Link: MacDailyNews

Patent: US20080316183

Abstract: Systems, methods, and devices for interpreting manual swipe gestures as input in connection with touch-sensitive user interfaces that include virtual keyboards are disclosed herein. These allow for a user entering text using the virtual keyboard to perform certain functions using swipes across the key area rather than tapping particular keys. For example, leftward, rightward, upward, and downward swipes can be assigned to inserting a space, backspacing, shifting (as for typing capital letters), and inserting a carriage return and/or new line. Various other mappings are also described. The described techniques can be used in conjunction with a variety of devices, including handheld devices that include touch-screen interfaces, such as desktop computers, tablet computers, notebook computers, handheld computers, personal digital assistants, media players, mobile telephones, and combinations thereof.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Surface and Tabletop Photo Gallery

Just over two-thirds of the respondents predicted that voice-recognition and touch technologies would become commonplace. They envision haptic (or touch-based) technologies such as a small Internet device that could project a full-sized keyboard onto a flat surface. The virtual keyboard would recognize users' hand movements, enabling them to "air-type."
What's next? Well, probably two things taken from gaming consoles - sensitivity to direction of motion for the unit as a whole (think of the Nintendo Wii), and something called haptics. Haptics is all about the study of touch. Integrating haptic technology within a touch screen could enable phones and other devices to allow us to experience a whole new set of senses.
Apple Mighty Mouse

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

nanoTouch: back-of-device touch user interface for really small devices

nanoTouch homepage

nanoTouch is a kind of back-of-device touch interface especially designed for very small devices (2.4" or less). Compare it with its predecessor lucidTouch and others such as Grippity.

We argue that the key to touch-enabling very small devices is to use touch on the device backside [1]

One more advantage of nanoTouch the authors missed is that touching the back side of a small device is much more comfortable than touching that of a larger one.

[1] P. Baudisch and G. Chu, "Back-of-Device Interaction Allows Creating Very Small Touch Devices," submitted to CHI2009, Boston, MS, April 4-9, 2009.



PS: I found another nanotouch site. It says that

Placing the Nanotouch on the right hand thumb, as the user massages their index finger with their thumb "Nanotouch" makes the cursor move on the screen.

The concept is funny, but no more information I can have.

Fujitsu launches notebook with touchscreen sub-display

Consumer Electronics

Press Release


Concept Designs

Monday, December 15, 2008

Rumored Touch Screen Sony Walkman

Consumer Electronics


Swipe a finger and you have easy access to devices, data, networks, IT resources, and data, with authentication and encryption all driven by that simple act.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Possible Application of Microsoft Surface

GT students Justin Needham and Mathew Straub built a digitally assisted billiard system with a web cam, an embedded computer and a projector. Microsoft now has one more item for its application list for Surface.


Grippity back-typing keyboard

Grippity Many HCI researchers have been interested in back-typing or rear-side touch. For example, Microsoft introduced LucidTouch that combines a webcam and a multi-touch panel installed on the rear side of a mobile device. Apple filed a patent application claiming a device with force-sensitive back-side interface.

Although the interface concept is cute, I had expected that a real product would be in the market at least after 3-4 years until I met Grippity keyboard from an Israeli startup company.

The keyboard is composed of a keypad whose mechanical structures are configured on the back of the device and a trackball on its top right corner.

However, I think the company might ignore an important motivation of back-sided or rear-sided touch user interfaces - avoiding the occlusion problem [1]:

Multi Touch on G1 Android

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mobile IR touchscreen technology

It is reported that Neonode is in bankruptcy mode. Neonode's unique touch technology lets the old and popular IR touchscreen technology to be applied to mobile handsets. There is another company that has a mobile version of IR touchscreen technology - RPO.

In this post, I compare the features and technologies of those two companies.


  Neonode RPO
Patents 2 US patents  12 US patents
Top View I Neonode RPO Digital waveguide touch
Top View II Neonode
[from Neonode]
RPO Digital Wave Guide Touch
[from RPO]
Side View Neonode RPO digital waveguide touch

Monday, December 8, 2008

HTC Touch hands-on

Consumer Electronics


Press Release



Webinar: Capacitive Touch-Sensing Design Practices

Capacitive touch-sensing design best practices

Date: December 10, 2008

Time: 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

Sponsored by: Cypress

Need for Standard Gesture Library

Due to the rapid advent of multi-touch user interface, so many companies are now providing their own gesture sets.

Jonathan Brill posted an interesting article on the need of a standard multi-touch gesture library. Especially, he wants Microsoft to publish a de facto standard gesture library with a community common license.

I totally agree with him. But I am not sure if it is possible to make an easy-to-use and remember gesture set without IP violation. For example, Apple has a patent that claims two-finger open- and close-pinch gestures and many other companies also have filed their own multi-touch gestures.

I just hope relevant companies well resolve the IP problem for the rest of us not to use clumsy multi-touch gestures.

PS: I like PQ Labs gesture set. Their multi-touch gestures seem to be useful to navigate 3D virtual world.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

DIY Touchpanels - Maker Faire 2006


photo by dmoren

It's Sasha Haris-Cronin's summary on various touch screen technologies. You can also get some insights for making your own touch panels.

Link: DIY Touchpanels - Maker Faire 2006

Reading: Touching the Future

T. Selker, "Touching the future," Communications of the ACM, vol. 51, no. 12, pp. 14-16, Dec. 2008.

Abstract: In combination with finger and hand gestures, multitouch input is enabling users to manipulate and display information in innovative and unprecedented ways.

Touch screen interface supply chain

Touch screen interface supply chain

Friday, December 5, 2008

Experience soccer games through your cell phone vibration

Turn your mobile into the football: rendering live football game by vibration

Shafiq ur Réhman, J. Sun, Li Liu and Haibo Li, Turn your mobile into the football: rendering live football game by vibration,  IEEE Transactions on Multimedia, vol. 10(6), 2008.

Vibration offers many potential benefits for the use of mobile phones. In this paper, we propose a new method of rendering live football game on mobile phones using vibration. A mobile phone is “synchronized” with the ball in the real field. By holding the phone, users are able to experience dynamic movements of the ball, to know attacking directions and which team is leading the attack. The usability test of our system shows that vibrotactile display is suitable for rendering live football information on mobile phones by adopting designed coding schemes with a right training process.

Link: IEEE via

Lab Tour: Multi-touch team of Microsoft

30 min. video clip introducing people, lab, and demos of multi-touch team, MSR Cambridge.


Link: Inside MultiTouch: Team, Demo, Lab Tour

Report: Touch Screens in Mobile Devices

Here's a report by ABIresearch about technical analysis and market forecasts of touch screens

Touch screen technology for mobile devices is going through a period of renaissance due in large part to the fascination surrounding iconic mobile phones such as Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Instinct, which have brought touch to a new level of user acceptance. Driven by a number of trends including the growing desire for more intuitive interfaces and personalization options as device functionality increases, as well as decreasing ASPs for touch components and panels, the penetration of touch screens in mobile devices will continue to increase, but at different rates depending on the geographic region. This study examines and provides forecasts for the market for touch screen displays in communication and productivity-centric mobile device form factors including mobile handsets, portable navigation devices, personal digital assistants, ultra mobile personal computers, mobile Internet devices, and tablet PCs.

Link: Touch Screens in Mobile Devices

Interview with Chris Ard, Director of Marketing of QRG

HackingCough has a story about QRG's multi-touch touch screen controllers, including an interview with Chris Ard, director of marketing. QRG is UK-based and acquired by Atmel.

Link: Multitouch (well double touch) for the rest of us

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ALTERA's multipoint touch-screen design

MAX IIZ multi-point touch-screen reference design

[From Altera document]

Impressive. They developed a multi-touch screen with Analog Device AD7142 14 channel touch sensing IC and Altera MAX IIZ CPLD. They should promote the result through the Internet.

Multi-Touch In Windows 7

Ian LeGrow's presentation Multi-Touch In Windows 7 at WinHEC2008 looks interesting.
Table of Contents
  • Now Is The Time!
    • Customers are ready for touch
    • Mainstream digitizers are available
    • ISVs are investing in Multi-touch
    • Multi-Touch Capable PCs
      Are Available Today
  • Multi-Touch In Windows 7
    • Windows 7 Multi-Touch Goals
    • Augmenting The Experience
      • Simple gestures for everyday use
      • Optimize for consumption scenarios
    • A Short List Of Investments…
    • Deliver Consistency
      • Consistent Touch APIs
    • Multi-Touch Software: Good-Better-Best
    • Multi-Touch Hardware Laptop and AIO form-factors are great for Multi-touch
    • Tablet PC Hardware: A Multi-touch and pen enabled tablet PC is the ultimate mobile PC
  • Working With Partners
    • Elo TouchSystems
    • Wacom
    • N-trig
    • NextWindow
  • Call To Action
  • Additional Resources
  • Q&A

Thursday, November 27, 2008

CNET Interviews N-trig

CNET does a story about an interview with Lenny Engelhardt, N-trig's VP of Business Development.

He said "Seven- to 17-inches is our sweet spot" since screens of smart phones and other small mobile devices are too small to make a good multitouch interface.

My opinion is a little different. First, Apple iPhone anyway has shown an excellent way of applying multitouch to small screen devices. Second, I think that N-trig's DuoSense is much more important feature than multi-touch. With DuoSense technology, a user can use pen and multi-touch simultaneously. Pen input is very important feature for Chinese users due to their complex character system (ideogram).

So, I slightly modified N-trig's opinion: 1) seven- to 17-inches is a sweet spot of multi-touch and 2) cell-phones and smart phones are a sweet spot for DuoSense.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DIY Capacitive Touch Sensing III, with Arduino

In Arduino forum, you can find discussions on making a capacitive touch sensor with Arduino platform. Arduino is an open source electronics prototyping platform for artists, designers, and many others.

Beside touch sensing, Arduino forum has discussions on many interesting hobby projects. The figure below is Pololu 3pi Line Maze Solving Robot.

Pololu 3pi Line Maze Solving Robot

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

DIY Multi-touch Gesture

Multitouch Applications from Falcon4ever on Vimeo. is a multi-touch and multi-gesture research blog by Laurence Muller. He developed a multi-touch system called tDesk. He also obtained MS degree for the multi-touch interface. His master thesis is well organized and covers various aspects of multi-touch systems, from system design to user study. For me, Chapter 3: Multi-touch detection and processing is quite useful to understand the internal data processing of multi-touch systems. If you are to make your own multi-touch gesture software, the thesis is worth while to study.

DIY Capacitive Touch Sensing II


Previously, I posted an article on DIY capacitive touch sensing. Today I found another interesting site - CapToolKit - helpful to make your own capacitive touch sensor. The site is maintained by Raphael Wimmer and contains everything - schematics, firmware, communication protocol, etc., to build capacitive touch sensing applications.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Microchip's new inductive touch-sensing technology

Microchip has a new line of touch sensing products called "inductive touch". Let me show their introduction rather than mine.

When a user presses the front panel, it deflects slightly. This deflection, on the order of microns, is inductively detected. The fundamental principle of operation is that the impedance of an inductor varies when a nearby magnetically permeable or electrically conductive material moves relative to the inductor.

Inductive Touch

As you shown from the above description and illustration, it's a kind of a pressure sensor while most capacitive touch sensors are categorized as contact sensors. It senses the change of distance between two parallel plates when a user presses down the sensor. In my opinion, the term touch now has three different meanings: contact, pressure, and proximity. There are many ways to construct a pressure sensor using various sensing techniques. The most popular but people are not aware is resistive touch screen. Capacitance sensing technique can also be used to pressure sensors (You can find an example in PPS web site).

Here, I have a question. The Microchip's document shows a comparison chart that compares inductive touch and capacitive touch. But I'd like to know differences between capacitive pressure sensing and inductive pressure sensing (inductive touch). There should be some differences, but I couldn't identify since I'm not so familiar with pressure sensing. Does anybody know an answer?

Comparison between inductive touch and capacitive touch

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Multi-touch resources

Multitouch SDKs, APIs, and Applications





The owner says:

This is the web-page of my recent multi-touch software project.

It was born from an entry to the well-known german "Jugend forscht" technical & scientific youth-contest. This work won the regional-contest of Unterfranken at March 9, 2007 and next level, the bavarian-contest in Munich at March 29. From May 17. to 20. it could be seen in Hamburg and won the second prize. At CeBIT 2008 the prototype of mehr:wert could be seen at Hall 9, Stand B40.




PQWindow Software Platform adds Multi-Touch foundations to various operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS, etc. The package also comes with valuable Mulit-Touch applications to show case innovative human computer interactions.



MultiMouse is a Windows multi-touch mouse driver developed using touchlib


image image


Articles helpful to develop multi-touch applications

The article describes how to enable multitouch gestures using IBM ThinkPad T30 equipped with a Synaptics TouchPad. The supporting multitouch gestures include 'three-finger swipe' and open- and close-pinch geestures.

Monday, November 10, 2008

MOMO: Haptic Navigation Aid

Momo gives directions to people by haptic feedback. The user holds the device and it tilts and vibrates to give right way to go.

momo: a haptic navigation device from kristin on Vimeo.

Link: MAKE

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Do people really like multi touch?

image image
He noted Microsoft's touch interface as an important element in this strategy.
"This [touch] is becoming a big opportunity for everybody," Sinofsky said.
Sensor development was also emphasized during the keynote address. Microsoft is giving away sensor development kits at WinHEC while they last. Sinofsky noted that touch sensor hardware is currently being shipped.


Force, Pressure, and Touch -
Force pressure touch technology: FSR sensor, electronics, firmware and software
Design Service Low Cost Pressure Mapping
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