Google plans to include haptic/tactile feedback engine into Android to… make their ads more effective
May23

Google plans to include haptic/tactile feedback engine into Android to… make their ads more effective

Looking from the business model point of view, Google is an advertising company. All their apps and services, almost all the technologies they are working on, are geared for one purpose only – get as much pageviews as possible to display ads on, and get as much information about you, to show the most actionable ads possible. Today USPTO has published a patent application called “ Providing information through tactile feedback” that makes Google’s obsessive advertising priorities even more clear. The patent app deals with the issue of the tactile/haptic feedback on touchscreen devices. The lack of such tactile feedback from our full touch smartphones and tablets, is probably one of the most annoying things about them. Apple, Nokia, Samsung and other companies in the smartphone biz have been trying to solve the touch device tactile feedback problem for years. But, except for the rather primitive haptic engines that vibrate most of the device on touch event, outside an R&D lab, none of them has anything interesting to show us. But they will figure something out eventually. And this brings us to Google, and their latest patent app. In it, Google does not go deep into the technologies of how to make the tactile/haptic feedback work. They do an overview of what might be possible, and how it might be done, but it is very broad and not really helpful. For all intents and purposes, Google just says that eventually the solution will be there. That devices with a very granular tactile feedback, along full surface of a touchscreen, will come along. And then Google will be ready with their own “Tactile Interface Engine” inside Android, to …. display all those ads on Android smartphone,  with tactile feedback – to make them better and more effective. The ways to do so, described in the patent app, include: Separating an ad displayed on a webpage with a border having a distinct tactile feel, so you notice when your finger is approaching the ad. Displaying multiple ads in separate tabs, and giving each ad different textures/feelings of roughness. The ad which is considered the most relevant will give the roughest feedback, the next one will give a different and lighter sensation, and so on. If you decide to drag one of the background ads to a new place, the display will provide you with the physical feeling of dragging something, to keep you more focused. And those different textures of roughness? Well, they can be adjusted to the ad content, too: if the content displayed in the first region 208 corresponds to an ad for a beach resort, the haptic feedback provided...

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Facebook Phone’s UberFeed to pull info/feeds from everywhere. Enhanced caller ID, privacy mode in the works too
Apr02

Facebook Phone’s UberFeed to pull info/feeds from everywhere. Enhanced caller ID, privacy mode in the works too

So, the Facebook Phone we told you about few weeks ago, is finally coming on Thursday. One of the key features for this handset will be an active Home/Lock screen that will display Facebook feed. There’s a talk about dedicated camera app to replace default Android one, and improved FB messenger. But getting a news feed to show-up on your Android Home screen sounds kinda lame for three years of effort by Facebook’s mobile head Eric Tseng, who joined social networking giant from Google way back in 2010. To see what else Facebook may brig to their new device, we looked at the patent applications filed by the company and Eric Tseng himself. There were quite a few interesting ones. Active Home Screen with UberFeed Let’s start with the active Lock screen displaying Facebook feed. Yep, they have a patent app for that. It’s called “Display Dynamic Contents on Locked Screens” and talks about displaying your Facebook feed intermixed with your SMS, e-mails, shared pics and stuff. But the social news feed on your locked HTC Myst display is not the interesting part here. For its grand entry into mobile Facebook may have something much bigger in the works. They call it “Uberfeed” and describe it in detail in the patent application with the same name: … various types of information relevant to the user (e.g., relevant to the user himself or relevant to the user’s life) obtained from multiple sources may be mixed and combined into a single, yet comprehensive information feed, which may be referred to as a “uberfeed”. The term “uber” is a prefix originated from German, which may convey the meaning of “increased elevation or quantity”, “superiority”, or “excessive degree”. Thus, a uberfeed may include many different types and pieces of information obtained from many different sources. In particular embodiments, the specific informational content contained in a uberfeed is user specific. That is, the information contained in a uberfeed constructed for one user may differ from the information contained in a uberfeed constructed for another user. In addition, the specific informational content contained in a uberfeed constructed for a specific user may also be time and/or location specific. A uberfeed may thus provide a single information feed (i.e., a single information source) that includes all types of information relevant to the user. Consequently, the user only needs to look to one information source for all the information he may need. The Uberfeed information sources can include: news (e.g., news feed), notices, advertisements, network content (e.g., information publicly available on the Internet), messages (e.g., email or SMS), social-networking information (e.g., information associated with the social-networking system,...

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Apple files for iPhone/iPad haptic feedback system patent. Already explores manufacturing options
Mar22

Apple files for iPhone/iPad haptic feedback system patent. Already explores manufacturing options

Ever since Apple released their first iPhone, we’ve been waiting for them to figure out how to add haptic feedback to the multi-touch interface. The UI on iPhone and iPad is great. But ability to feel a key press when you are typing, or getting feedback when you tap on an icon/scroll through a list – will make it better. While Samsung, Nokia, RIM and HTC has been adding vibration feedback to their touch screen handsets for years, Apple stayed away from haptics all this time. Insisting that its Multi-touch UI is already the best around anyway – which was true enough. But that was just Apple being Apple. Keeping the cool new technology under wraps, until they figured out how to really make it work. And, if their latest patent application is any guide, they may be pretty close of doing just that. The new patent app describes Apple’s take on the haptic feedback implementation which can work in iPhone, iPad or Mac trackpads. And, what’s even better – it covers the ways how to manufacture haptics enabled touch devices. Apple’s new system includes an array of piezoelectric actuators dispersed beneath the iPhone glass, providing localized vibration feedback as you move your finger around the display. These localized vibrations allow you to “feel” various UI elements on screen. The actuators may be placed in a grid, next to capacitive sensors driving the touch UI, or beneath them. In other implementation – the haptic actuators could be made in the form of strands extending across the screen. Apple also talks about the force sensors just under the haptic feedback layer, that can feel how hard you are pressing the screen,help identify the gestures and your intent, and calibrate the proper vibration response. None of the things described above are particularly new or original. I’ve seen various ways of doing haptics for touchscreens described and shown off over the years. Most of them included piezoelectric actuators, placed in one form or the other beneath the display. All the demos or actual working gadgets I tried, where not very good on haptics, and didn’t come close to imitating the feel of touching/pressing the real thing. And you’ll probably have to have an engineering degree to figure out how Apple’s version is better. What’s more interesting – is that in the same patent application, Apple also covers a number of manufacturing techniques, how to mass produce devices with the haptic feedback. And it makes little sense to put resources into manufacturing R&D, before you have a working system you want to make. So it seems that Apple may have finally figured out...

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Nokia to launch 3 touchphones this fall. Adds Immersion’s haptics vibration feedback
Apr08

Nokia to launch 3 touchphones this fall. Adds Immersion’s haptics vibration feedback

Well, it looks like Nokia is finally getting really serious about touchscreen phones. After wetting their feet in touch with 5800 XpressMusic and then coming up with top of the line Nokia N97, they must have liked it and now  are ready for more. According to TheStreet.com, Nokia is working on no less the 3 different thin touchscreen phones. And they will be adding haptics vibration feedback from Immersion technologies to them. These new Nokia touchphones should be out as early as this fall, people “familiar with the matter” say. The phone above is Nokia Eco sensor phone concept, not a real device I just wonder whatever happened to Nokia’s own Haptikos touch feedback technology that they’ve been playing in the labs. I guess it’s not ready for primetime...

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Four new Pantech phone concepts to feed your geeky dreams
Oct22

Four new Pantech phone concepts to feed your geeky dreams

Pantech, South Korea’s third largest handset manufacturer, is doing well both in its home country and in the US, especially since it has recently announced two new phones for AT&T. But we’re not going to talk about AT&T’s phones right now, although I’m sure many of its subscribers would wish to have at least one of the devices presented below. The Pantech Design Community, comprised of 20 college students, has showcased four new concept phones that Pantech might, someday, build. The first concept is called Coralliform Water. Obviously inspired by the sea and its life, the phone is a slider that somehow looks like a budding flower, when closed. No tech specs were given, but the Coralliform Water seems to have a touchscreen display and a camera. This phone would especially look good in a lady’s hands and, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind having one. Not at all. Here it is: Easter Moai, the second new Pantech concept, is designed to express the “multifaceted nature of human beings”. It has a “wave” touchscreen LCD, a touch key, a dome key and lots of other keys on its sides, put there to increase the phone’s functionality. The Easter Moai can also be attached to some sort of support, of unknown purpose: Recy_Q is a full-touch phone that also has a sliding QWERTY keyboard. the device features touch keys that are embedded into its metal frame, for an easier control over its User Interface. Recyclable material should be used for the case and the keypad. I’m not sure about how those tiny “wings” of it would feel in hand, but the phone surely looks good: Softy Lofty, the fourth new Pantech concept, is the weirdest of them all. I can’t figure out where the display of this phone is. Anyway, the handset is designed “to offer as much visual and emotional comfort as possible” and to emit a vague light when re-charged: So, apart from this last concept, the other three ones look like they could soon be in stores, probably in South Korea first. But this is all up to Pantech and its manufacturing plans. Via Telecoms...

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Concept Nokia Touchscreen offers liquid-powered tactile feedback
Oct11

Concept Nokia Touchscreen offers liquid-powered tactile feedback

Feeling lazy on a Sunday morning? Take a look at this Nokia touchscreen phone concept and see if it can get your gears going as it did mine. Though its design kind of resembles an oversized microSD card, make no mistake about it: it’s supposed to be a phone. A touchscreen phone at that, and offers user input via its wide touchscreen display. According to the maker of this concept, called the Nokia Liquid Phone, users should be able to type and manipulate things on the screen without having to actually look at it. How? Magic, of course! By “using a small pump to fill a substrate beneath the screen that gives our fingers something to feel and press.” As you can see here, its buttons look as if they have ballooned up from beneath the screen for a user to type on. And that’s exactly what happens every time either of the two on-screen keyboards are brought up (both the alphanumeric and QWERTY keyboard). The plastic outer layer of the screen floats just a little bit upward to form little buttons that we can actually type on, instead of type at. It’s hard to say when this kind of phone will begin hitting store shelves, or if it will even become possible in the near future. But if it doesn’t, well, it’s got a design that’s quite worthy of being used in one of Nokia’s next touchscreen phones anyway. Via Yanko...

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Apple’s touch surface keyboard with tactile feedback
Oct25

Apple’s touch surface keyboard with tactile feedback

The key problem when working with various touch devices is the lack of tactile feedback. While smooth sliding surface might be great for scrolling through playlists or zooming in to the Google maps on an iPhone, some functions – like typing messages, just doesn’t feel right when you can not feel the key you pressed. But don’t worry, Apple feels your pain and is working hard on adding tactile feedback to the Multi-Touch user interface. The possibility to include haptics was mentioned in a key iPhone patent a while ago and we may well see some concrete efforts here soon. But for now , we’ll have to settle for the glimpse into Apple’s tactile feedback efforts on other touch devices like a touch surface keyboards: Apple has filed the patent called “Keystroke tacility arrangement on a smooth touch surface” recently, where they disclose various tactile feedback techniques on a smooth touch surface keyboard. These techniques include: Braille-like dot pairs or bars at key centers Articulating frame that protrudes at key edges during typing Articulating frame that deforms surface cover at key edges during typing Rigid frame under key edges with compressible key centers Depending on the technology used, tactile feedback mechanisms can be permanently fixed on a touch keyboard surface, hidden under it or moved into place when required. While the technologies described in the patent application can not be directly applied on a current tactile feedback problem on iPhone and iPod touch, it’s nice to see that Apple is doing some serious research in the haptics field. With Multi-Touch interface improvements at the center of Apple’s future strategy, I’m sure they’ll come up with some interesting tactile feedback tricks for the touchscreens as...

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Setting twitter feed for my bl…

Setting twitter feed for my blog

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 stars in new leaked pictures, may hit stores on June 27
Jun06

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 stars in new leaked pictures, may hit stores on June 27

With the upcoming Galaxy Tab S tablets, Samsung will once again bring Super AMOLED touchscreens to the tablet space. This hasn’t happened since 2011, so suffice to say it’s been a long time coming. The line has been rumored to consist of two members, a 10.5-inch offering and an 8.4-inch tablet. The former of those has had some more details about it leaked today, along with some new pictures that come from Samsung’s own promotional materials, as you can undoubtedly gather. Interestingly, the 10.5″ device will be incredibly thin, at just 6.6 mm – this might have been possible thanks to the slimness of that AMOLED screen. The tablet will also be very light for a device this size, coming in at just 465 grams. Those numbers compare favorably to Apple’s iPad Air, which will undoubtedly be the Tab S 10.5’s main competitor. In the weight department, the Samsung tablet only wins by 4 grams, but it’s almost 1 mm thinner. The Tab S will be able to sync up with your Samsung phone and it will be possible for you to take calls straight on the tablet – presumably these will automatically go to loudspeaker or a wired or Bluetooth headset if any of those are connected. A notification will pop-up on the tablet when you get a call, and you go from there. The Galaxy Tab S tablets should be unveiled on June 12, and they may go on sale on June 27 according to a leaked release timetable (seen above) from an unnamed retailer. Pre-orders are apparently set to start on June 13, so just one day after the announcement. Via SamMobile and...

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HTC One E8 unveiled internationally just as it gets priced in China
Jun03

HTC One E8 unveiled internationally just as it gets priced in China

Today HTC decided to officially announce the One E8, its plastic flagship Android smartphone. This comes right on time, even though the Taiwanese company did confirm the existence of this handset a few days ago. Anyway, One E8 is the name – Ace was just a codename after all. The HTC One E8 comes with most of the One M8‘s specs in a plastic package, which makes it cheaper than the metal flagship that’s already being sold. The HTC One E8 has a 5-inch 1080p Full HD touchscreen, a 13 MP rear camera with LED flash and 1080p Full HD video recording, a 5 MP front camera, a 2.3 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (which will be clocked at 2.5 GHz only in Asia for whatever reason), 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage (around 10.6 GB of which is user-accessible), microSD card support, 4G LTE, dual-SIM (some models), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, NFC, and a 2,600 mAh battery. It runs Android 4.4 KitKat with HTC’s Sense 6 UI overlay on top. Its dimensions are 146.42×70.67×9.85 mm, and it weighs 145 grams. Basically the only big difference between the E8 and the M8 is the camera, the new device going with a traditional 13 MP unit and single-LED flash, whereas the One M8 sports an UltraPixel snapper with Duo Camera setup and dual-tone dual-LED flash. HTC hasn’t announced official international pricing, or where we should expect to see the One E8 being sold – outside of China, that is, which will get it first starting this month. And speaking of China, the new smartphone has already been priced over there, according to Engadget. It will cost 2,799 yuan. That’s around $447 or €328 at the current exchange rates, and it’s about half of what the One M8 costs in China. Furthermore, it’s also much less than what the Samsung Galaxy S5 is going for (and this should be its main competitor). If HTC brings such great pricing to other markets, then the One E8 has the potential to easily outsell the One M8. Whether that’s a good thing for HTC or not remains to be...

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