'LucidTouch' Backside Touch Screen Prototype

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 12, 2007.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Gizmodo points to a Youtube video and New Scientist article which detail and demonstrate a technology called "LucidTouch" developed by Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs.


    The prototype video demonstrates a user using the back of the device as a touch surface to manipulate objects on the screen. The prototype uses a mounted video camera to provide visual feedback on screen as to where the users fingers are. By using this "see-through" interface, it attempts to solve the issue in traditional front-touch screens where fingers may obstruct the view of the screen itself.

    Apple has also been researching this technology which was revealed in a patent application from January 2007. The patent application was titled "Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devices". Apple's implementation did not go so far as to depict the users fingers, but instead opted to display a pointer or cursor to show where contact was being made.

    Article Link
  2. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2006
    Never seen this before, will it really make that much difference? I suppose when touch-screens are more popular in electronics it will...
  3. macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2007
    I don't like it. If apple were to do something like this for the next gen iPhone, I would not buy it. It doesn't seem like I would work to well. And its ugly. That's just my 2 cents though.
  4. macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2007
    I didn't even realize this was a problem until just now. I thought touch screens were as simple as "point at pebble - push pebble" but oh no! I can't see the pebble with my finger in the way! Ahh! if only there was some way I could reach up to the pebble from under the ground, so I can still see it?

    How did we ever claw our way up the evolutionary ladder with this issue of our hands blocking our view of what we're doing with them? For that matter, even climbing a ladder is downright dangerous if you can't see the rungs for your hands. And forget about elevators, you have to push every button to make sure you get the right floor
  5. macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    i'm not sure if i would like it either. maybe if this technology gets developed a little more
  6. macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2005
    I agree with Orng,to me this is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist in the first place.

    Next up: the holographic CGI hand that appears in front of the screen to represent the real hand behind the screen!

    And please, "Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devices" ? I really think they need to re-name that. It's worse than "Piles". In fact the former sounds as if it would exacerbate the latter. Sorry, but you know, it does.
  7. macrumors 6502

    Jul 23, 2007
    lol, I think I saw one of those for sale on one of those sites you're not supposed to look at at work
  8. macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2005
    Not a good idea IMO

    I like the illusion with multi-touch displays, that you are touching an object. I'm perfectly fine with my finger being the cursor. I really see no benefit in doing this. If anything, it's impractical.
  9. macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2007
    Lol. I saw this on another site about a month ago. :p.

    Though, when you actually think about it, this is an awesome idea.
  10. macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2005

    "Is handled by a FingerWorks iGesture pad"

    Apple acquired FingerWorks back in 2002. I wouldn't be too concerned about patent problems.
  11. macrumors 6502

    Nov 29, 2005
    this woould work great for simple stuff like scrolling on the iPhone.

    Imagine... you're on safari, and you can just brush the back of the phone to scroll, and then select stuff with the front screen. This works better as sometimes the iPhone can't discern from when you want to scroll, or click. (Macrumors site is a bad example but take something with a lot of hyperlinks like apple.com/store, when i scroll, it always thinks i'm clicking on the imac or something). this would solve that problem

  12. macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2002
    Planet Earth
    Transparent OLED

    Why not just use a transparent OLED display? This would eliminate the camera having to show where your fingers are on the backside.

    Transparent OLED = yummi, yummi!!!
  13. macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    New York, NY
    Wow, that is one ghetto piece of hardware. I love the giant quickcam jutting a foot out from the device.

    Anyone else notice how poor the response was? How about how incredibly uncomfortable that looked to hold.

    What if you wanted to drag something from one end of the screen to the other? You would have to drag it half way with one finger, pass it to a finger on your other hand, and then continue dragging. Yeaaahhh... that sounds revolutionary!
  14. Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Since your hands naturally wrap around something you are holding, this may in fact provide a more comfortable user interface for people using both hands. And it makes it possible, in theory, to use the device with one hand, even while on the move, which is rather hard to do with a standard (front-)touch-screen.
  15. macrumors 68000


    Jan 12, 2006
    Love it

    This is actually a very nice concept.

    The thing with mobile devices is you usually use them with one or at most 2 thumbs. This is fine for things where multiple simultaneous actions are not necessary, for example dialing a number or drawing lines. But as operations get more complex, i.e. zooming in, typing quikly, you need both your hands; Either one to hold the device and the other on to touch the screen, or your two thumbs while balancing the device in your palms.

    The approach we see on that video solves that problem. I'm sure Apple has something very similar in development. An easy way to realize this would be to have 1 multitouch display on the front and one multitouch surface (no need a display on the back...) on the back. This way, you can move your thumbs out of the way to see the whole display. Like it is now, the button on the iPhone you touch is covered while you touch it so you find yourself moving your touch hand away to reveal the screen every time.

    The transparent touch screen sounds noce at first, but then you would have to hold it against a bright background to read anything. I agree that having the touch sensor only on the back side is bad, but having it on both sides is pretty awesome. I'm not sure I need to see my fingers all the time though, the cursors should suffise, maybe in different shapes to distinguish the fingers. Maybe an arrow that is parallel to the finger that controls it.
  16. macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2007
    I agree with Dr. Q. I think this is an awesome idea, though it would take some getting used to, much like the qwerty touch screen of the iPhone. As mentioned earlier, the biggest advantage would be the ability to carry a small device with both hands and still have the ability to control it. I think that perhaps two vertical rows on the face for thumb control then finger control on the back. I don't think that a see-through or camera system would be necessary, you'd become aware of where your fingers are after using for a while without the need for an OSD of it. Also, could you imagine portable gaming (a la PSP) with something like this!? No longer limited to two thumb control devices, each finger could be used for a different function. Granted, my brain prob couldn't handle it, but I'm sure there's some 12yo out there somewhere who could process 10 discreet signals at once.
  17. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 9, 2003
    Durham, NC
  18. macrumors 68020


    May 7, 2003
    Saint Augustine, FL
    There are a few instances where this would be handy, but the amount of time you spend lining up your virtual hand, I think would be wasteful.

    For example, when listening to a podcast on the iPhone, and you need to scrub the song, your finger completely blots out that little guy and you don't really have a sense that you're moving it (if paused). From the back, you could still see the little handle and know if you got ahold of it to move it a short distance.

    of course, this would also be solved with some clever UI change. Like some sort of "wheel" that you spin your fingers around on. The faster you spin that wheel, the faster it moves. I doubt even Apple could come up with such an innovation.
  19. macrumors 65816


    Jun 15, 2007

    Gotta admit, that does look pretty cool though.
  20. macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

    Jan 7, 2006
    This is brilliant.

    Good start at a better interface.
    I love the near ludite type comments about it.

    Some people really get pissy about anything that could mean change.
  21. macrumors newbie

    Oct 12, 2007
  22. macrumors 68040


    Feb 6, 2007

    No one is pissy. You need to get off people's backs just because they don't like the same ideas as you do. I don't like the idea. It might work, and I may love it, but eight now, seeing and hearing about it I don't like it. I much rather a normal touch screen. Cool down man.
  23. macrumors 6502a


    Jun 26, 2006
    In the Great White North.
    My biggest issue with it is the massive camera mounted on the back. As of right now it just looks big and bulky. I know their goal is to integrate the camera into the display, but even with that idea it doesn't interest me.

    I just don't see a use for this type of technology, although that being said I do not use any form of PDA so my opinion doesn't carry much water.
  24. macrumors 603


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    This precise feature was suggested on his very site some time ago. Guess that blows their patent hopes out of the water? ;)

    Seems like a good way of avoiding finger smearing and fingers obstructing the view of the screen.
  25. macrumors member

    Dec 21, 2005
    It's a great idea. Bother to think about for a second and you'd know. I can't be arsed telling you why. Use some imagination.

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