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Touché by Disney Research brings touch control to everyday things (newscientist.com)
178 points by jcfrei on May 6, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments



There's also more important applications for this, for example detecting common postures and grips on fallen asleep drivers or knives that know when their not being handled properly. Additionally a world of possibilities opens up for the blind and disabled if you can inform them of objects they are touching in a room. I find these applications (and surely many more I am not enumerating) much more appealing then controlling a phone, but alas, that's what sells.

Lets hope the eye-candy stuff propels the technology so that the really useful stuff can be built at a lower price.


Totally! I actually found it really surprising how boring the potential usage examples in the video were compared to what's possible with some of these ideas.


The jarring switch from "show amazing new tech with countless possibilities" to "you can train your child how to eat cereal!" made me question whether the whole video was really a clever parody.


Of course people are thinking about games right now. The first implementation I thought of was to reproduce the "hand seal/hand wave" spellcasting in traditional fantasy lore - and thus introduce a new genre of fighting video games: sorcery duels, also known as "Certamen" among Ars Magica fans.


I think it will be a wonderful boon for people with artificial limbs. A sense of touch may be all that is needed to reduce phantom limb pain, among other things.


> A sense of touch may be all that is needed to reduce phantom limb pain, among other things.

Actually, I remember hearing that a simple mirror can do that.


That's very true, but you can't use a mirror to grasp an object.


This seems like an important step towards the fabled "Computronium"(1) allowing our environments to compute. Heavy handed regulators should pay very close attention to the consequences of monopolies granted around these ideas. One misstep allowing the patenting of "controlling stuff with touch" instead of allowing only the much more restrictive specific methods of detecting that touch could prune an entire branch off our technological development tree for decades to come.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computronium


What the hell is that part about kids and breakfast?! "Could be used to monitor and train kinds to use the right implements to eat breakfast". That is just messed up.

In all seriousness this is freaking awesome tech. Will definitely be huge, unless they fuck up the licensing or patent it to death.


> What the hell is that part about kids and breakfast?! "Could be used to monitor and train kinds to use the right implements to eat breakfast". That is just messed up.

Messed up? You're just looking at what it's doing, not how it can be applied. The ability to monitor a child with special needs with this sort of application is pretty amazing. Suddenly, this information can be transmitted and used to assist with therapy. Knowing how often a child uses a spoon/fork rather than his hands due to real data rather than parents recalling is powerful.

It also provides powerful feedback. A system setup to remind them child if they stop using their fork/spoon by showing a picture to remind them. This is already used in training. Unfortunately, it can't be automated. Tools like this would allow for that, and the potential is staggering. We are clearly years away, but this has the great potential to really help people.


That is a really great point! I was really only appalled by the specific application of audio feedback used in the demo. And as such I blatantly discarded the whole idea of feedback systems. But when I think about it, that area is huge. I really want one of those sensor plates with an arduino interface!


> And as such I blatantly discarded the whole idea of feedback systems.

That happens far too often. You have to disconnect yourself from only looking at one element though. Generally, you have an interaction taking place in the form of Event > Action. Something occurs, and then something happens. In this case, the method of eating is the event. The sound happens to be the action. However, you can always replace the Action with anything else (you can also replace the event with anything else.

Basically, this is how you should approach demos. Not as the end, but as the possibilities.


It's a new cereal called Clockwork Orange Berries.


Sounds right horrorshow.


elbows on the table.


I'd love to see this applied to guns where you have to make a much more intentioned grip for the safety to be disabled.

a gun that senses it is being held in a weird way will not fire.

I think the first application will be on a mouse. A mouse that has multi-dimensional touch features would be great.

This will also make creating an interface to control things like the whole house very easy. Basically enabling complex control of a full building's BMS easily.


Is that a big problem? Why don't the gun owners who perceive that as a problem use the safety or buy a gun with greater trigger pressure? If they don't do those things, why would they want to pay to add this feature?


Gun owner loses concentration for a second. Safe is left unlocked. Child gains access to firearm. Child mimics television and pulls the trigger. Childs hands are too small/weak, firearm is heavy, grip on firearm is frail, gun does not fire.


It's not really a big problem in the grand scheme of things. If you follow the 4 safe behaviors(google it if necessary) it's pretty much impossible to have an accidental discharge.

But mistakes happen (and idiots happen), and occasionally someone has an accidental discharge while handling or cleaning.

I think where this would really shine is for user recognition/unlock as mentioned by a previous poster. There have already been attempts at user recognition, but those relied on magnetic rings or RFID chips.


Drunks cleaning their gun, kids, poor training. All factors in fatal shootings.

I am not saying it will solve all this - but if this can be applied, it may easily reduce it.


> but if this can be applied, it may easily reduce it.

Or, it can result in more dead people.

Guns that don't go off when the trigger is pulled get people killed.

FWIW, "cleaning their gun" is usually cop for "the family doesn't need the stigma of a suicide ane needs the insurance money if any".

There's also some evidence that a lot of the "kid found a gun" are successful murders (by parents) or, at best, depraved indifference. The families that have them are usually "interesting".


Can you site some sources, please?


IIRC, the stuff about kids is in Gary Kleck's "Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America" although there was probably some stuff in Philip Cook's "Gun Control".

I stopped reading the research 10-15 years ago, long after it became clear that the research didn't have any effect on people's positions.


The other good source is "Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms" by Wright and Rossi. They were tasked by the Carter administration with gathering the available research to prove that gun control worked.


It can't be applied. No one wants their gun's efficacy to be subject to the failure of batteries.


There has been a lot research on grasp detection and interpretation over the last 10 years. Touché is just a new sensing technique, not a new interaction paradigm.

For example, Raymond Veldhuis has been working on smart gun grips that identify their owner since 2003: http://www.sas.el.utwente.nl/open/people/Raymond%20Veldhuis


or how about guns that won't fire because you aren't the registered owner (or approved on 'firing list' of some sort, in the case of, let's say, a wife that's home alone when a burglar comes).

Brings a whole new meaning to hacking, also.


Bu this doesn't provide the ability to ID, just the ability to sense particular holds.


Which can serve as ID, like a fingerprint or retinal scan.


I dislike that analogy. A "special grip" is analogous to a secret handshake or code, whereas fingerprints and retinal patterns are intrinsic and immutable body characteristics.

In fact, wouldn't an actual fingerprint scanner be more effective for this purpose? Having used biometric readers, I frankly would not trust my life to one. Nonetheless, it [fingerprint reader] would be infinitely preferable to any technique that required fine motor control in high adrenaline situations.

edit : this thread made me instantly think of Judge Dredd.


This needs to leap into the marketplace as soon as possible. The music player concept is brilliant, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

I wonder about the potential of a screen-less touch vocabulary, such that you could type a text message without taking the phone out of your pocket. (Siri is nice and all, but it requires the user to yield control to the Cloud and pray that it responds accurately.)


Indeed. Pair this with Google's Project Glass and you can avoid the awkward (in public) voice commands.


And then combine with a motion capture system for your hands to be able to manipulate virtual 3d objects that give haptic feedback.


Like Gmail Tap?


This reminds me of this awesome rant on the future of interaction design where the author compares the "picture under glass" model of traditional touch interfaces with the amount of interactivity we have with a sandwich: http://worrydream.com/ABriefRantOnTheFutureOfInteractionDesi...


Good! Finally we'll have the technology to train children to properly eat cereal!


This gonna fuel so many designers brainstorm. It seems to sit at the right level of abstraction.


Mysterious how HN submissions get picked up... I submitted this yesterday via VentureBeat: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3931173


The title makes the difference. :)


Does anyone know how this works in detail?

Also I never understand capacative sensing. Does the human have to be grounded for it to work? Why not?


This site provides a nice, simple overview: http://www.analog.com/library/analogDialogue/archives/40-10/...


I suppose this puts the tech in Minority Report to shame. Now I'm thinking Google Goggles/Glasses + Touché.


that's awesome. in this application it would be hard though to sense the position of these gestures i.e. where in the liquid you touched. but combined with other sensing technologie (like optical or traditional capacitive) that would be a HIT.


What about the feasibility, commercially?


Worst pun ever.


It irks me whenever a company takes a common word in a language and turns it into a name or a brand. It feels like the language is being pillaged.


Disney just won a lot of respect by me (and probably by millions of others); the awesomeness of this is staggering.


By funding a university research department?





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