Virtual touchscreen

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Magic Man
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 5:00 am

Virtual touchscreen

Post by Magic Man » Tue Dec 30, 2008 6:07 am

I think the next direction NaturalPoint and TrackIR needs to go in is to incorporate some sort of virtual touchscreen functionality.

Various 'hacks' have been put together in the sim communities to enable such but no commercial solution has yet been made availble. e.g. using a Wi 'mote' as here..., there is also the camspace development that uses standard webcams to track objects and can be made into a rudimentary virtual touchscreen solution, although not as good as the Wi mote.

The issue with the Wi mote solution is that it needs to be mounted in such a way as to see the screen and also required some sort of user made tracking finger or glove.

Now, if NaturalPoint got behind this then it could bring the additional functionality of clickable cockpits together with the 6DOF views we already enjoy.

The first issue is how to track the screen. A way I can think of to do this is to use two or more TrackIR derived devices that are perhaps mounted at the corners of the screen and have a good (45 degrees or more) field of view but perhaps in a narrow band. These, linked and working together could see and track the pointing object over the screen. The solution would need to be designed to cater for screens of different sizes and display ratios. Perhaps these two (four?) sensors would be connected to the central TrackIR unit (which still takes care of 6DOF view tracking) to minimise cable clutter (or make them wireless enabled and they connect wirelessly to the TrackIR unit - but would then need to be able to be easily removed to be recharged)

The 'pointing object' could perhaps be developed along the lines of a glove or just a finger mounted device but it needs to not be bulky or get in the way of normal operation of that hand, i.e. on a joystick for example. In order to register the touch then either some sort of sensitive microswitch on the end of the device (although it would need to be designed so that no damage could be done to a soft TFT screen). Alternatively (and better) would be a non touch solution along the lines of a mini distance sensor which would trigger when it is a preset distance away from the screen or some sort of photodiode arrangement in the end of the finger which would trigger the press when it 'sees' the tracked mouse cursor at a certain size/brightness etc. beneath it. A fall back could be a couple of touch sensitive rings on the finger device that could be activated by the thumb and/or middle finger for the equivalent of left and right mouse buttons.

Just a few musings from my head again... I really think NP should look into this area though before someone else brings out a commercial product - a virtual touchscreen is a perfect compliment to a full 6DOF view.

Happy New Year!

NaturalPoint Employee
NaturalPoint Employee
Posts: 1395
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 5:00 am
Location: Corvallis, Oregon

Re: Virtual touchscreen

Post by Jim » Tue Dec 30, 2008 12:21 pm


Thanks so much for this contribution. I have seen the video you linked to, and good to know the person was using a TrackIR for 6DOF view control.

As the cockpits get more elaborate and realistic, I think this is a great idea with good timing.

As always, there is much innovation that can happen with PC interactivity.

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