Augmenting touchscreens with tactile devices

Despite the versatility of a touchscreen, there are times when stroking and tapping a tablet's glass surface doesn't cut it. Both researchers and manufacturers are taking note.
Written by Chris Jablonski, Inactive

Touchscreens have revolutionized how we interface with computers, offering a simple and elegant way to navigate the web and control applications. Despite their versatility, however, there are times when stroking and tapping a tablet's glass surface doesn't give you the desired control, response, or haptic feedback, a common complaint found in gaming and music production circles.

Peter Kirn, an author on Create Digital Music, presents an insider's look at this issue and the effort underway to satisfy the needs of fringe users in a post-PC era.

Extending the Touchscreen is a project by NYU's Mike Knuepfel, which features a series of physical, mechanical, and electrical devices that touch, interact and communicate directly through the touchscreen interface. The goal, according to Knuepfel, "is to make touchscreen interactions more tactile, physical and potentially more expressive and fun." (View the video below).

Kirn points out that the gaming industry is also following suit. Sony’s PlayStation Vita, successor to the PSP mobile game platform, augments touch input with tactile controls and Nintendo’s Wii U controller combines an interactive touch display with analog controls.

Ubiquitous platforms like the iPad will unlikely head down that path, but supporting connectivity for a full range of devices to make them as "sociable" as the PCs they've displaced can only allow for more powerful interfacing and expression.

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