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


backtouch_300.png



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
 

OwlsAndApples

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2006
513
0
UK
Never seen this before, will it really make that much difference? I suppose when touch-screens are more popular in electronics it will...
 
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Telp

macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2007
3,069
18
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.
 
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Orng

macrumors 6502
Jul 23, 2007
386
0
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.

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
 
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twoodcc

macrumors P6
Feb 3, 2005
15,307
26
Right side of wrong
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.

i'm not sure if i would like it either. maybe if this technology gets developed a little more
 
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Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
3,165
6,155
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.
 
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Orng

macrumors 6502
Jul 23, 2007
386
0
"Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devices" ? I really think they need to re-name that.

lol, I think I saw one of those for sale on one of those sites you're not supposed to look at at work
 
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iQuit

macrumors 6502a
May 13, 2005
518
5
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.
 
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7031

macrumors 6502
Apr 6, 2007
479
0
England
Lol. I saw this on another site about a month ago. :p.

Though, when you actually think about it, this is an awesome idea.
 
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iQuit

macrumors 6502a
May 13, 2005
518
5
Well

"Is handled by a FingerWorks iGesture pad"

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

macrumors 6502
Nov 29, 2005
499
4
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

$0.02
 
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MacVault

macrumors 65816
Jun 10, 2002
1,144
59
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!!!
 
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johnnybluejeans

macrumors 6502
Jan 16, 2006
294
0
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!
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,688
5,240
Los Angeles
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.
 
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MrCrowbar

macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2006
2,102
293
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.
 
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matlockj

macrumors newbie
Oct 12, 2007
1
0
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.
 
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mainstreetmark

macrumors 68020
May 7, 2003
2,228
293
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.
 
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Lesser Evets

macrumors 68040
Jan 7, 2006
3,513
1,281
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.
 
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Telp

macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2007
3,069
18
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.


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.
 
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kwood

macrumors 6502a
Jun 26, 2006
833
0
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.
 
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whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,593
682
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.
 
Comment

F.D.

macrumors member
Dec 21, 2005
65
0
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

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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