Touching Light with Haptic Feedback

Many of us have gone on a stationary romp through some virtual or augmented scape with one of the few headsets out in the wild today. While the experience of viewing a convincing figment of reality is an exciting sensation in itself, [Mark Lee] and [Kevin Wang] are figuring out how to tie other senses into the mix.

The duo from Cornell University have built a mechanical exoskeleton that responds to light with haptic feedback. This means the wearer can touch the sphere of light around a source as if it were a solid object. Photo resistors are mounted like antenna to the tip of each finger, which they filed down around the edges to receive a more  diffused amount of light. When the wearer of the apparatus moves their hand towards a light source, the sensors trigger servo motors mounted on the back of the hand to actuate and retract a series of 3D printed tendons which arch upward and connect to the individual fingers of the wearer. This way as the resistors receive varying amounts of light, they can react independently to simulate physical contours.

One of the goals of the project was to produce a working proof of concept with no more than 100 dollars worth of materials, which [Mark] and [Kevin] achieve with some cash to spare. Their list of parts can be found on their blog along with some more details on the project.

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Fixing Ghost Touch In The OnePlus One

The OnePlus One is the flagship phone killer for 2014, available only by invite, and thus extremely cool. So far it’s a limited production run and there will, of course, be problems with the first few thousand units. When [vantt1] got his One, he noticed a few issues with the touch screen. Some touches wouldn’t be registered, typing was unpredictable, and generally, the touchscreen was unusable. [vantt] had seen this before, though, so with a complete teardown and a quick fix he was able to turn this phone into something great.

[vantt] realized the symptoms of a crappy touchscreen were extremely similar to an iPad mini that had recently had its digitizer replace. From the Foxconn plant, the digitizer in the iPad mini is well insulated from the aluminium enclosure. When the screen and digitizer are replaced, the cable connecting it to the rest of the iPad can come in contact with the case. This leads to the same symptoms – missed touches, and unpredictable typing.

Figuring the same cure will fix the same symptoms, [vantt] tore apart his OnePlus One and carefully taped off the digitizer flex cable. Reassembling the phone, everything worked beautifully, and without any extra screws in the reassembly process. You can’t do better than that.

Artificial skin lets robots feel

BioTac Artificial Skin Technology is sure to be a storm with Robotics Designers. Giving them the opportunity to add a third sense to there robotic marvels. Now they can have the sense of touch to go along with existing technologies of sight and of sound.  Thanks to the technology coming out of the University of Southern California making this possible.

They have chosen to call their sensor BioTac, which is a new type of tactile sensor designed to mimic the human fingertip with its soft flexible skin. The sensor makes it possible to identify different types of texture by analyzing the vibrations produced as the sensor brushes over materials. This sensor is also capable of measuring pressure applied and  ambient temperature around the finger tip, expect to see this technology in next gen prosthetics. Let us know your thoughts on it.

[via technabob]
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Replicating the fancy touch sensor that uses anything

[Sprite_tm], a name many of you will recognize from these pages, has wasted no time in replicating the latest cool thing in a much simpler fashion. En Garde is a touch sensor that can detect up to 32 different points of contact on… whatever you use as the surface.  He couldn’t sit idly by and let the Disney funded one from yesterday keep the spot light. As you can see in the video, it works pretty well. If he didn’t tell you that his can only detect up to 32 points as opposed to the 200 of the other, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference.  Of course, [Sprite_tm] also shares how you could easily beef his up to be even more precise. You can also download his source code an schematics from his site and give it a try yourself.

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Simple touch sensor and other lessons

[HankDavis] sent along this link to a video showing a tutorial on how to make touch sensors using a “darlington pair”. In the video we are taken through the idea and how we’re going to construct it.  [Thad]explains in detail how this works in simple terms and illustrates it clearly. Unfortunately they don’t show an actual constructed system, but this is so simple you could toss it together quickly and see for yourself. This is a great lesson on how to get a simple touch sensor into your projects. This video appears to be one of a series of class visuals, and you can find several others on youtube under this account.

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Touch screen using range sensors

This touch screen relies on measurements from two range finders to track your finger as you press buttons. [James Alliban] put this together as his first Arduino project. We’re familiar with [James’] background because of his informative augmented reality business card. As the Arduino picks up data from the range finder it sends it to a Flash script that is running on the PC.

As we watched the video after the break a lot of questions came to mind. What kind of angle do these Ping sensors have? Will there be interference problems if they were placed perpendicular with each other? Would you get more accurate data if they were not both on the top of the screen? For now this is just a preliminary experiment, but we like the concept and may give it a try ourselves.

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Physical tone matrix

[Andrew Jenner] pulled off something amazing with this Physical Tone Matrix. He wanted to build a physical version of a flash applet he had seen. Two layers make up the main user interface. The top layer is a sheet of acrylic that acts as a touch interface and below there’s an LED matrix. [Andrew’s] touch interface uses wires running throughout the acrylic as contacts which are polled via transistor pairs. As you can see in the video after the break it works well and we like the fact that there’s a tactile component (due to the bumpy wires) you don’t get when working with a touchscreen.

The 16×16 grid of LEDs on the bottom layer correspond to each ‘button’ on the touch matrix hand have some extra functions such as playing Conway’s Game of Life. This fantastic build still has a couple of kinks to work out, most notably the interference in the audio circuit, but we’re quite impressed at what he’s achieved quickly. Plus, this is more economical than a monome and larger than some of the monome clones we’ve seen.

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