Touchscreen with Texture

Electrovibration could make for a better sensory experience on a smooth touch surface.

Touch screens are ubiquitous today. But a common complaint is that the smooth surface just doesn’t feel as good to use as a physical keypad. While some touch-screen devices use mechanical vibrations to enhance users’ experiences of virtual keypads, the approach isn’t widely used, mainly because mechanical vibrations are difficult to implement well, and they often make the entire device buzz in your hand, instead of just a particular spot on the screen.

Now, engineers from three different groups are proposing a type of tactile feedback that they believe will be more popular than mechanical buzzing. Called electrovibration, the technique uses electrical charges to simulate the feeling of localized vibration and friction, providing touch-screen textures that are impossible to simulate using mechanical actuators.

[via Technology Review]

Surface 2 demo

If this proves as promising as the demos look the new Microsoft Surface II means doomsday for a lot of other multi-touch products out there, especially for the DI kind. Like the old projection based Surface they need a lot of space behind the screen. The new Surface uses a LCD with infrared sensitive pixels developed by Samsung and is only 4 inches thick. The raw image from the device, as you can see in the demo video, looks pretty much the same as from a camera in a DI touch. But as the diffusion layer of the back projection screen is missing it is pretty sharp. This allows to use the display as a “scanner” and should extend it usability for object and tag recognition.