Ask Hackaday: Are we close to reinventing the keyboard for touchscreens?

minuum-keyboard

We mourn the loss of the physical keyboard with the advent of tablets. After all, we do a bit of typing getting all of these features posted throughout the week. And we kind of blame tablets for the decline of the netbook industry (we still use a Dell Vostro A90 when not at home). But we’re trying to keep an open mind that we may not need a physical keyboard anymore. If someone can come up with an innovative alternative to the Qwerty layout that we are able to learn and can use with speed and without physical strain we’ll be on board. Our question is,  do you think we are close to a screen typing breakthrough?

This question came to mind after seeing the Minuum keyboard shown above. It compresses all of the rows of a Qwerty into a single row, monopolizing less screen space than conventional smartphone input methods. The demo video (embedded after the break) even shows them hacking the concept into a distance sensor and using a graphite-on-paper resistor. Pretty cool. But what happens when you type a word not in the dictionary, like this author’s last name?

You can actually try out the Minuum style thanks to [Zack’s] in-browser demo hack. He’s not affiliated with Minuum, but has done quite a bit of alternative keyboard input work already with his ASETNIOP chorded typing project. It’s another contender for changing how we do things.

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Laser Etching an iPhone 5

Laser Etched iPhone 5

CrashBangLabs in Regina recently got their hands on a laser cutter. The Full Spectrum cutter was donated by a local company, who were upgrading to a larger machine.

With no laser cutting experience, [Brett] decided that his first project would be laser engraving his iPhone 5. This is a bit of an ambitious first project, since the power and speed would have to be set correctly to get a good contrast level, and you only have one try to get it right. Also, using too much power might have turn the phone into a laser etched brick.

[Brett] used an older aluminium iPod for testing. Once the laser speed and power was dialed in, he loaded up the artwork for the real thing. The cutter did a pretty good job at etching the art, but as the etching started it became clear that an alignment error had occurred. Fortunately [Brett] decided to not interrupt the cutter, and ended up with a good looking phone, with a slight alignment issue.

After the break, check out a time lapse of the laser cutter doing its thing.

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Pinoccio Web Rover

web-rover

Before assuming that the title should be “web crawler,” just shush your shussins’ and check out the video after the break. The Pinoccio, as previously noted, is a board in development as a sort of web-enabled by default Arduino. This makes it perfect for a project like this one where a little rover is controlled from 10,000 Kilometers away, or around 6000 Miles for those of us that dwell in the US.

This setup uses a cell-phone accelerometer in Brazil to allow control of this robot in Nevada. Although close, the control isn’t quite real time, so that has to be accounted for. Something like this could be easily used for a telepresence ‘bot.

If you want to build your own, the assembly time is estimated at 1 hour. Instructions, as well as source code can be found on their page after the video. Although the Pinoccio board won’t be available until at least this summer, maybe this will give someone inspiration to try something similar in the mean time! Continue reading “Pinoccio Web Rover”

Complete Siri home automation controls everything but the kitchen sink

complete-siri-home-automation

[Elvis Impersonator] spent three full days but in that time he managed to hand control of everything in his house over to Siri. The technique used is a familiar one. A Raspberry Pi running SiriProxy listens for commands from the iPhone and acts on them based on [Elvis’] predefined configuration. The difference here is that it’s not just a single device (read: lamp) that is being controlled to prove the concept. His video (embedded after the break) shows him operating an entire range of devices in his home.

The demonstration starts off with his garage door being opened and closed. From the YouTube video description we know that he’s using Trendnet IP cameras and it looks like one of them lets him see if he remembered to close the garage.  Next he disarms his home security system as shown in the image above. From there he adjusts the Nest thermostat, switches off the living room lights, and changes the TV channels.

We think the need to give voice commands would get old pretty quickly. But that aside we applaud his work to pull everything together into one single interface.

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Siri controlled Arduino using Ruby

siri-proxy-ruby-arduino

This snippet of Hello World code lets [Nico Ritschel] turn the Pin 13 LED on his Arduino on and off using Siri, the voice-activated helper built into iPhones. The trick here is using the Ruby programming language to get Siri Proxy talking to Arduino via the USB connection. He calls the project siriproxy-arduino.

On one end of the hack resides SiriProxy, a package not approved by Apple which is capable of intercepting the Siri messages headed for Apple’s own servers. The messages are still relayed, but a copy of each is available for [Nico’s] own uses. On the other side of things he’s building on the work of [Austinbv’s] dino gem; a Ruby package that facilitates control of the Arduino. It includes a sketch that is uploaded to the Arduino board, opening up a Ruby API. The collection of code seen above defines the pin with the LED connected and then listens for a specific Siri commands to actuate it.

Take a look at [Nico’s] explanation of the module in the video after the break.

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Simple iPhone telescope mount

simple-iphone-telescope-mount

This cheap and easy hack will let you use your old smart phone to take pictures and videos of the view through a telescope. [Xobmo] built the connector for just 55 cents. Apart from our concerns about scratching the lens when inserting the phone in the bracket we love the idea.

He was given the Celestron Powerseeker 70AZ as a gift from his wife last Christmas. He looked around the Internet and saw that there are already some solutions for recording video using an iPhone 3GS. This design on Thingiverse would be perfect, but he doesn’t have access to a 3D printer and ordering it form a service would cost almost $50. But when he got to thinking about it, all he needed was a ring to fit on the telescope and a way to connected the iPhone to it. He headed down to the hardware store and picked up a PVC coupler. After working with a hack saw and drill he ended up with a slot with two wings on it. Just slip the phone in and slide the ring on the eyepiece. You can see some action shots, and get a look at the mount itself, in the clip after the break.

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Inductive charger inside the case of this iPhone 4s

iphone-4s-inductive-charger

This iPhone 4s is charging without a dock connector because [Tanv28] added inductive charging hardware inside the case.

The hack is not for the faint of heart. But if you’ve got a precision soldering iron and a stead hand we bet you can pull it off. It starts with disassembly to get at the cable that connects the circuit board to the dock connector. [Tanv28] solders fine enameled wire to pins 16, 23, 25, and 27. The other end of these wires are soldered to the guts from a Powermat inductive charging system. After the connections are made there’s not enough room under the back cover of the phone for this added bulk. But laminating a second plastic frame onto the assembly will correct for the 1mm difference in thickness. The clip after the break walks through the entire process.

You can see that [Tanv28] also built the charging station into a piece of furniture. We just saw a post last week that used this technique to add Powermat hardware to a shelf.

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