Touch Screen Technology With Knobs On

The ways in which we interact with computers are continually (albeit slowly, at least in mainstream terms) evolving. Touch screens are gaining widespread traction, and it seems that the boundaries between display and interface are converging. Devices such as JazzMutant’s Dexter brought a new level of interaction to DAW controllers, but now Girton Labs have devised a way of sticking physical knobs onto a computer screen…

Stuck On You

The working prototype allows a rotary knob to be magnetically attached to an LCD monitor, such as a laptop. Feedback signals are sent to the computer using USB and MIDI, and the knob can be instantly removed and replaced at any location on the screen. This provides a level of physical control that cannot be easily replicated with standard touch screen interfaces, particularly when dealing with small rotary controls like those found on standard mixing desks.

Touch Screen Technology

The interface is called SenseSurface, and is enabled by a sensing matrix attached to the rear of the display. The researchers are working on developing other forms of physical controls, such as “switches, sliders, pressure controlled analog touch switches, squeezy knobs and balls, textured rubber, vibration feedback”. Sounds intriguing, although I’m not sure where they’re going with the ‘squeezy knobs and balls’. They are currently looking for investors, so exploiting that angle might be a good place to start.

In Touch With Screen Technology

Although having a selection of physical objects stuck to your screen might seem a bit unwieldy, it does open up a number of intriguing possibilities, particularly as the price of TFT screens continues to drop. Custom-building your own hardware (haftware?) synth or DAW controllers may no longer be the sole preserve of the homebrew crew…


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