Microsoft Patents A Smart Ring

Microsoft is known for working on cutting edge technology, with the technology used in the Kinect becoming a dream piece that was quickly built and mirrored in other gadgets and systems. The next piece of technology they want you using? How about something to go with your smart phone, a smart ring.

Back in November and December, Microsoft patented the designs for a smart ring, a device that would look and feel like a ring but would give you control of your devices as if it was a mouse. The smart ring would detect your fingers movements, acting almost as if you were using a touchscreen in thin air, and thought the use of a small laser, could even detect the position and movement of the finger. Felt like clicking a table and opening your family photos? Look no further!

With both the fingers movement and pose being tracked the input device could be used for anything from a smartphone to a desktop PC, with the complete control of your system (and sorry for saying this) at your fingertips.

The device is patented as working with several other components, from tablets, TV’s, Kinect’s and even smart glasses and smart watches. You’ve got the display in your glasses so why not touch it in thin air?

Are you excited by this concept? I am, imagine being able to control your computer at work like Iron Man with a flick of the wrist, this would also avoid the large motion and input detecting systems that many AR (augmented reality) headsets are having to mount to give you the full Iron Man experience.

The Sensel Morph Takes a New Approach on Input Devices

We have had the keyboard and mouse as input devices for quite a while, and while they are some of the best and optimal ways, they are somewhat outdated and could use a refresh. There have been many attempts on new input methods, but none really stuck. We do have touch screens now, but let’s face it, they still suck big time in response times and don’t offer any improvement to productivity.

A new KickStarter project has set out to change that with a reinvention of known technologies into a new form of input device. The Sensel Morph is the first pressure-sensitive, multi-touch input device that enables users to interact with the digital world in a way that wasn’t possible up until now.

The Sensel Morph is using a patented pressure grid technology and with its high dynamic range of force sensitivity, the Sensel Morph can detect not just your fingers but any object from a paintbrush to a drumstick. One of the great things is that it works as it is out of the box with most devices and applications. It is further hackable for those who wish to get more out of the device and use it for completely new scenarios.

It comes with a micro USB to normal USB cable for use with computers, it can connect to tablets and smartphones with Bluetooth, and you can even connect it to Arduino developers boards to create completely new and ingenious devices with input options that just weren’t possible up until now.

The Sensel Morph got its name for a good reason as it can morph into almost anything. Drum computers, musical keyboards, normal keyboards, design interfaces; it is all changeable with smart overlays. The overlays are automatically detected and completely optional to use. The Overlays are physical apps made of a thin, flexible layer that you can place over the device to provide a visual map and tactile feedback for each modes unique functionality.

It is basically old techniques that were refined and morphed together for a new product that is hard to describe. I think the introduction video below can do that a lot better thanks to the visual aid; I know that I’d sure like a couple of these.

You can also check out how various professionals can use the Sensel Morph in the videos below. Use it as paint surface, turn it into a music creator, or build you completely own devices. There aren’t many limitations for the Sensel Morph.

The project has already been successfully funded, but there are still 37 days left to get in on the Kickstarter. Early bird specials are gone and a single Sensel Morph and three overlays of your choice will set you back $249. There are also multi-packages available for those who wish to extend with more than one. Check it out and start dreaming of all the amazing things you could do with this new input device.

EA and Comcast Team up to Bring New Streaming Service

There are a lot of streaming services that bring games to players on their TV. We all know the popular NVIDIA Grid and the company’s constant attempt to make it more popular. Microsoft and Sony are attempting to bring such services to their consoles too, but they still have a long way to get people interested in the latter.

Now Electronic Arts and Comcast made a partnership to bring cloud gaming to your TVs too. All you need is an Xfinity X1 box from Comcast. The really interesting thing here is that the companies are not relying on controllers, but rather encourage people to use their smartphones and tables as their own personal controllers. All they need is an app called Xfinity Games and then navigate to a website on their handsets, enter a code and you’re done. The controls are made out of swiping and tapping gestures.

But are handsets really good controllers? Well, tests proved they are not! The companies found out that it was extremely difficult to control and navigate the Dead Space title, but found out that the handsets are best at controlling cars, so they went on and added the Real Racing to the list of games. They say that this would be the future of online gaming, but is it really true? There are more things to take into account here.

One of the main issues with online stuff is the user’s internet speed. Ok, you get some games that can be controlled remotely, but you still have to think that despite your efforts of delivering and receiving input and game feedback, ISPs around the world are still struggling to deliver actual speeds to have their customers load up a page, yet alone play a fully fledged game remotely. The second one that is applicable here is the controller. You can get some feedback by the handset’s ability to vibrate, but are most games ready for using virtual buttons? I would like to see how someone would play a fast-paced FPS or even RTS titles controlled via a smartphone or tablet.

Nevertheless, there are around 20 titles available for Comcast customers to try out, including NBA, PGA, and Plats vs Zombies. The list is said to be constantly changing based on user feedback and the companies are even thinking of adding third-party titles to the list in the near future.

Thank you Cnet for providing us with this information

Google Hates Lag as Much as You

Remember that time you wanted to show someone that awesome picture you took of an ice-cream, but your phone lagged out and it required a hard restart? Or maybe that game which requires immediate feedback that just doesn’t read your input when you need it to. Well, you’re not alone, Google also hates the input lag and is trying to counter-act it in an ingenious way.

The technology is Chrome TouchBot, “an OptoFidelity-made machine that gauges the touchscreen latency on Android and Chrome OS devices”. The bot uses a compatible stick to interact with the touch-screen device in a series of ways such as taps and swipes in a web-based test rota that can help pinpoint problems in code and/or hardware.

Now this isn’t the only lag monitoring device at Google, but it could be the most important given how involved the company is with touch screen devices and operating systems. With the use of this device, we could hope to see much more interactive and responsive devices in the near future.

Do you own a Google OS based device, do you experience any input lag? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to engadget for providing us with this information.

Google Releases New Handwriting Keyboard with 82 Language Support

Google has released a new keyboard meant for handwriting called Google Handwriting Input.

The App works on any Android device running version 4.0.3 (Ice cream Sandwich) and above. The keyboard supports input in a whopping 82 languages. Simplifying the job of having multiple google keyboards for each language.

The keyboard can recognize emojiis by drawing them, is useful for languages that may be challenging to type on a conventional android keyboard and may work even if your handwriting is shocking!

Once you have installed the new keyboard from the play store you can see it looks the same as the old android keyboard. If you wish to write something rather than type it. The app recognizes input from both a finger and a stylus if you have one.

I’ve installed it on my Sony Xperia and used my fat fingers to have a play around and it works pretty well, what seems to me as an illegible scrawl is understandable by the app. Since release the App has been downloaded over 5000 times. You can download the app from here

Google clearly have put a lot of thought and development into this app. It’s going to be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Thank you to Android Central for this information

Image courtesy of agbeat.com

Xbox One Users Experiencing TV Motion Judder

It’s another day and yet another problem has been troubling users of the new Xbox One. One of the many new features that Microsoft have added to the console is integrating the output from a TV receiver into the front end. Mixing this with the OneGuide service, users are presented with a simplified viewing experience where everything can be done from the console. Naturally not every user is going to use a separate box, but those that do are more than likely going to have a strong interest in setting up this service.

Where the new problem has arisen is with regards to the signal that the console receives from the attached TV receiver. Most of the home entertainment systems that are available here in the UK work on a 50Hz input/ output, however Microsoft’s consoles work to the US standard of 60Hz. What this effectively means is that the Xbox and TV receiver are working to two different standards and with the Xbox running at a higher rate, there is going to be a visual indication that something is wrong.

In a similar way to the lag that gamers experience when their graphics card is put under a heavy workload in-game, Xbox One users are experiencing motion judder as repeated frames are being displayed at a higher rate than what the console is receiving. At this moment in time Microsoft are looking to work on a permanent fix for this problem (only adding to the workload they already have from the numerous other problems that have come to light), however there is only a temporary fix that tricks the console to output at 50Hz.

A reader from HDTVtest, a UK-based TV review site, has listed a guide for users to follow which defaults the One to a 50Hz output signal, thus eliminating the stuttering effect that may have been seen. In this guide, ‘kevgallacher’ instructs users to go into their screen settings, change the input to auto-detect HDMI and set the resolution to 1080p. When applying the settings, the console will ask if this display has appeared correctly and by selecting ‘no’, the console will drop the output from 60Hz down to 50Hz.

This issue is likely to affect users that are not just in the UK, however it is going to be a region specific issue; affecting only those who are in countries where broadcasts are made at 50Hz. Until Microsoft can come up for a permanent solution for this, ideally with an option being added to the system settings, this manual fix will have to do the trick.

Source: CNET

Disney Research Brings 3D Touch To Mobile Devices

Disney have been working away in their lab to find a way of bringing tactile feedback to mobile devices. A new paper released from Disney Research shows that friction can be used to create an artificial sense of texture, giving the sensation that you are touching an object that you can see on the screen of your mobile device.

By creating an algorithm that generates levels of friction on the screen which closely match the friction your finger would feel were it touching the object on display, then you can trick the brain and your finger tips into thinking you are touching that object, even if it is on a flat surface, very clever.

“Our brain perceives the 3D bump on a surface mostly from information that it receives via skin stretching. Therefore, if we can artificially stretch skin on a finger as it slides on the touch screen, the brain will be fooled into thinking an actual physical bump is on a touch screen even though the touch surface is completely smooth.” said Interaction Group director Ivan Poupyrev.

This level of friction generated by the device is constantly changing as you move your finger and as the object moves on screen, further adding to the illusion.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/zo1n5CyCKr0[/youtube]

Thank you Gigaom for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Gigaom.