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

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?