When Screens Touch Back

“As students of media, however, we are (rightly) trained to be suspicious of technofetishistic and deterministic narratives. Instead of grounding our analysis in what tactile touch screens promise to do later, we should rather try to understand them for what they are being asked to do, to understand the desires embodied in the various attempts to give touchscreens a dynamic tactility. The following questions then come into view: what economic imperatives are steering and configuring this project of making tactile? What sensations does the screen allow into the tactile field, and which ones does it shield the user from? What sensations are desirable, and which are to be marginalized? What sorts of new intersubjective contacts are opened up? When the screen can touch us, whose touch is it acting as a surrogate for? (Or, “who penetrates whom” through tactile prosthesis?)” (David Parisi, FLOW)

Also check out the Popular Science clip on “Haptics” that Parisi references.

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

Image: Immersion Corporation: TouchSense® 5000

Disney researchers add sense of touch to augmented reality applications

“Disney researchers employ a newly discovered physical phenomenon called reverse electrovibration to create the illusion of changing textures as the user’s fingers sweep across a surface. A weak electrical signal, which can be applied imperceptibly anywhere on the user’s body, creates an oscillating electrical field around the user’s fingers that is responsible for the tactile feedback.

The technology, called REVEL, could be used to create “please touch” museum displays, add haptic feedback to games, apply texture to projected images on surfaces of any size and shape, provide customized directions on walls for people with visual disabilities and enhance other applications of augmented reality.” (Science Codex)

Touch the Future

University of Manitoba computer scientists in the Human-Computer Interaction laboratory are the first to develop a lightweight and elegant software solution that leaps over this hurdle: They created See You, See Me. This software is a boon to computer makers like Microsoft who want to develop table top computers and wall displays that many people – like school children in a classroom or architects at a drafting table — can simultaneously interact with.

See You, See Me enables computers to distinguish between user touches with near-perfect accuracy; and if a rare mistake occurs the software provides a quick remedy. It uses the finger orientation extracted from the user’s hand’s shadow to determine where people are and to keep track of who is doing what to the screen” (University of Manitoba)

Drones Set Sights on U.S. Skies

Drones Set Sights on U.S. Skies - New York Times

Photo: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

” ‘As privacy law stands today, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy while out in public, nor almost anywhere visible from a public vantage,’ said Ryan Calo, director of privacy and robotics at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University. ‘I don’t think this doctrine makes sense, and I think the widespread availability of drones will drive home why to lawmakers, courts and the public.’ ” (Nick Wingfield & Somini Sengupta, NYTimes.com)

And check out these previous posts on drones.


It Started Digital Wheels Turning

It Started Digital Wheels Turning - New York Times

Science Museum Archive/Science & Society Picture Library

“What it may do, though, is answer a question that has tantalized historians for decades: Did an eccentric mathematician named Charles Babbage conceive of the first programmable computer in the 1830s, a hundred years before the idea was put forth in its modern form by Alan Turing?” (John Markoff, NYTimes.com)