Friction control makes touchscreens sticky or slippery

Called frictional widgets, the technology could make smartphone tasks more efficient

The research team hopes to make the project smaller by adding capacitive sensing.

The research team hopes to make the project smaller by adding capacitive sensing.

A prototype touchscreen on show at the Computer Human Interaction (CHI) conference in Vancouver can change from slippery to sticky depending on what's happening on the screen.

For example, the screen can feel slippery to the touch when a user is dragging a file folder and then feel sticky once the file lands on its destination.

"That allows us to make the interfaces feel more real," said Vincent Levesque, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia. "You can feel clicks and you can feel resistance so it feels like you are more engaged with the task and the interface."

Watch a video on YouTube to see the screen in action.

The screen uses technology that is different from the haptic feedback sometimes used in smartphones. With haptic feedback, users feel the screen vibrate. Users of the prototype screen feel their fingers pushed away from the screen, rather than feeling a vibration.

"It's a bit like an air hockey table," Levesque said.

The prototype screen is only a few inches diagonally, but it's housed in a relatively large case. The screen also uses lasers to determine the position of the finger. As the team develops the project further, they would like to make the entire device smaller and replace the lasers with capacitive sensing.

CHI runs until Thursday.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceComponentsInput-Output

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Bitdefender’s best-in-class security solutions have been awarded Product of the Year. Get cybersecurity that 500 MILLION users already have and trust!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?