You’re already used to touch-enabled PCs, tablets, and smartphones, but eventually almost everything in your house could have a touch sensor, including doorknobs, cereal bowls, sofas, water, and even your own body. That’s a reality scientists at Disney Research in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — part of the Walt Disney Company’s commercial research arm — are working toward with a new touch and gesture recognition platform called Touché.
The new technology relies on “swept frequency capacitive sensing” capable of processing far more information than current touch sensors that monitor a single frequency to detect single and multiple finger movements. Touché can monitor multiple frequencies, allowing it to understand hand grasps, complex finger gestures, and body position such as when a user is covering her ears or uses his elbows to lean on a table.
Touché can be used in almost any object imaginable because it requires just a single electrical conductor embedded into the object and then a wired or wireless connection to a sensor controller. Disney imagines you could have a Touché-enabled living room where you sit down on your sofa and the TV automatically turns on. As you get more comfortable and lean back to enjoy the show, your living room lights would dim. And if you become so comfortable that you fall asleep, the sensors in your sofa would recognize this and shut down the TV for better rest. You could also put touch sensitivity into a doorknob that would lock based on how firmly you grasped the door handle, or even unlock with a “gesture password,” a feature in use today in Android smartphones and upcoming Windows 8 PCs.
Touché’s wireless component can turn your own body into a touch sensor by attaching electrodes to your wrists and relaying your hand gestures to a sensor controller via Bluetooth. Disney predicts eventual interface-free MP3 players and smartphones that can be manipulated by a series of gestures such as tapping two fingers in the palm of your hand for volume control. “It is not inconceivable that one day mobile devices could have no screens or buttons and rely exclusively on the body as the input surface,” according to a Disney video demonstrating the technology.
Another novel capability of Touché is turning water into a touch surface. Disney’s demonstration video shows a home aquarium with an electrode placed at the bottom of the tank. In the video, Touché’s sensor can tell whether a user is touching the water with a finger or hand, and can even distinguish between touches on the water’s surface and a submerged hand or finger.
Disney researchers are presenting their new technology on Monday at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, an event produced by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM SIGCHI).
Even though it’s still the new kid on the block, Google’s Chrome is rapidly becoming the standard against which other browsers are measured. Use these 10 quick tips to get the most of Chrome.
Configure Multiple Homepages
Consider yourself a power user, do you? Then why rock but a single homepage? You can configure Chrome to load multiple sites every time you open your browser. Click the Wrench icon and navigate to Tools > Basics and start adding sites. Don’t overdo it though-you’ll bog down your initial load time.
Cheat at Math
The Google Suggests feature in Chrome is your key to impressing co-workers with your unlimited knowledge of numbers. Just type your math query into the Omnibar and the answer will appear without ever having to punch the Enter key. Goodbye Windows Calculator!
Have a sneaky suspicion one of your tabs is a resource pig? You can find out which sites are dragging your browser (and your system) down. Just hit Shift+Esc to open up Chrome’s built-in Task Manager to see how much memory and CPU cycles each tab is consuming.
Test Drive Multiple Versions of Chrome
If you want access to new features before everyone else, you have to subscribe to Chrome’s Beta or Dev channel, both of which replace your stable build. Not keen with that? Try Chrome’s Canary build (http://tinyurl.com/2b2jof9). It’s the most frequently updated version of Chrome, and it installs alongside whatever other version you’re running.
Convert Webpages into App Shortcuts
App shortcuts open in a dedicated window devoid of browser buttons and are handy for frequently accessed sites, like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and, well, you get the idea. To create one, navigate to Wrench > Tools > Create application shortcuts… and punch the Create button.