Tag Archives: user interface

Invisible Touch with HandScape at CES



Handscape logoHandScape claim to be “Reinventing touch” and honestly, it’s not far from the truth. Their HandyCase puts a touch-sensitive panel on the back of a smartphone or tablet which lets the user work the device without fingers obscuring the display. LG has put buttons on the back of smartphones before but HandScape take it to the next level. Todd and Marlo see the possibilities with Tong Luo, founder and CEO.

Originally a Kickstarter project, the HandyCases for iPhone and iPad incorporate a touch-sensitive digitiser into a shell case. With multipoint capability, the touches, swipes and taps are transmitted via Bluetooth to the device which then reacts as if it had been tapped on the front display. This is genius. Imagine holding your smartphone in your hand and being able to scroll through your contact list by stroking the back of the phone with with one finger, and then double tapping to dial the number. Fantastic!

Cases are currently available for select Apple products with prices up to about US$150. It’s not 100% clear from the website what works now and what requires developer support so if you are thinking of buying you might want to confirm to avoid disappointment.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com and Marlo Anderson rounds up the latest technology news at The Tech Ranch.

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Google, There’s Something Wrong With My Nexus



Google LogoThis morning I discovered Google has changed the way the app drawer works on Nexus devices without any warning. Instead of scrolling horizontally in pages, the drawer now scrolls vertically in a single large page. Yesterday it worked the old way, today it works the new way. Google sneaked this in via the Play Store’s auto-update feature.

Note the scroll bar now on the right rather than the dots at the bottom.

New Google Drawer

Seriously, Google, what were you thinking? This is a key part of the user interface and you just changed it. There’s no “Excuse me, here’s a new feature you might want to try out” or apparently any option to change back. It doesn’t matter if it’s better or not, you should have asked. That’s arrogance Apple would be proud of.

It’s the Google Now launcher that’s changed so let’s check what’s waiting in Google Play on another device. Here’s some Google stuff waiting but it’s not the Now Launcher. Checking anyway… nope, no mention of the change there.

Screenshot_2015-09-26-11-39-59  Screenshot_2015-09-26-11-40-30

Google, if you want people to have auto-update turned on in the Play Store, you have to be trusted not to do something stupid and push an unwanted update that materially impacts on the way they use the device.

If anyone wants a new launcher, check out Nova Launcher. It’s much better…


Elliptic Labs Ultrasound Gesture Recognition



EllipticLabs logoAlthough initially with a stylus and more recently with fingers, the touch user interface goes back as far as the early days of mobile devices to the Apple Newton and Palm Organiser. Elliptic Labs want to add non-touch to the mobile user interface with ultrasound gesture recognition. Todd gets a demo from Laila Danielson, CEO.

Elliptic Labs use an ultrasonic speaker to create a sonic field around the mobile device. Moving a hand in front the device creates ultrasonic echoes which are picked up by microphones and the changes in the echo patterns are converted into gestures. For example, waving a hand from left to right scrolls a picture gallery. Moving a hand closer to the phone brings up additional information on a film or movie. It’s very impressive.

At the moment it’s a prototype device being shown to OEMs so expect the technology to appear on mobiles devices in the next year or two.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Ford SYNC 3 at CES



Ford LogoIn the good old days, cars had heaters and radios. if you were lucky it might have had a cassette player. Getting directions involved winding down the window and asking a local. Today’s vehicles have zoned environmental controls, multi-source AV, GPS with maps and drive train telemetry to three decimal places. All this is fantastic but while you’re figuring out the way to San Jose, you don’t have your eyes on the road.

Ford wants its drivers and passengers to have a great journey but to get to their destination safely, and in an unprecedented move, Ford invited customers to their advanced car simulator in Dearborn to help design the next iteration of their infotainment system. With over 20,000 pieces of feedback, Ford developed SYNC 3 with safety and ease of use at the fore. Big touchpoints keep hands on the steering wheel longer and voice commands now produce what the driver wants rather than purely what is said.

Todd chats with Gary from Ford about the company’s approach to the latest iteration of Ford SYNC, which will be available on 2016 model cars.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network

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Penclic – the Pen Mouse



Penclic MouseSwedish company Penclic think that the pen is mightier than the sword mouse so Andy gets to grips with the Penclic Mouse to see if it’s true.

A picture paints a thousand words and once you’ve seen the picture to the left, you’ll pretty much have grasped (sorry) the concept. You hold the Penclic Mouse as you would hold a pen and the base moves with your hand.

The Penclic Mouse is offered in two models, a wireless R2 and a corded D2, with all the features of a standard mouse, including left & right buttons and a scroll wheel. Available now from good retail stores at around $80 for the wireless version.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net.

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IOGEAR Wireless Multi-Touch Pad



If you’re a touchpad lover, then you’ll be in heaven with IOGEAR‘s new Wireless Multi-Touch Pad (GTP520R), freshly announced at CES. As you might guess from the name, it’s a wireless touchpad that supports multi-touch, which is pretty cool.

IGEAR Wireless Multi-Touch Pad

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet will be familiar with multi-touch and gestures, but most laptop touchpads don’t support either of them. The IOGEAR Multi-Touch Pad can bring multi-touch and gestures to Windows-based PCs and home theater computers (HTPCs), making browsing, scrolling, image viewing and navigating the web quicker and more natural.

  • Multi-select: double-tap your finger and select multiple icons, or a section for drag’n’drop
  • 1 Finger Gestures: mouse click, right/left mouse click, mouse select, vertical scroll, back/forward command flick
  • 2 Finger Gestures: pan screen side to side and up and down, object zoom in/out, rotate object

As you can see from the picture, the Multi-Touch Pad has six hot keys at the top to control A/V media functions such as volume up and down, skip track and home. With a range of about 10 m, the Touch Pad is ideal for the wireless control from the couch of  home theater PCs and other media friendly devices. The 2.4 GHz frequency band is used and a USB nano receiver is included. To get an idea of size, the pad part is just under 5″ so it’s much bigger than a laptop touchpad.

Multi-touch control is changing the way we interface with devices,” said Bill Nguyen, senior marketing manager at IOGEAR. “From tablets and smartphones to laptops and computer peripherals, people have trained their hands to use touchscreens comfortably and productively and our Wireless Multi-Touch Pad takes this control to the next level.

The IOGEAR Wireless Multi-Touch Pad is available now for an MSRP of $79.95.


DirecTV HD UI Coming November 1st?



directv logo

Rumors are circulating that the new HD user interface will start rolling out to DirecTV subscribers beginning November 1st.  It’s been quite a while since DirecTV has done a complete revamping of their UI.  For the past several years we have only seen minor tweaks and updates.  Now, users of the HR20 and newer boxes, including the HR21, which is the most widely used version, are about to get a whole new experience.

DirecTV describes the new features as a “dazzling new look and feel, lightning fast scrolling, visual browsing experience, and personalized recommendations”.  You can read about each feature by visiting DirecTV.  They have also released a video tour of the new UI, which should really get subscribers excited.

Given that DirecTV has posted an official page showing off the UI and even posted a video tour, it seems safe to assume that a release is very close.  If not November 1st then it should be sometime right around then.  Likely it will be a gradual roll-out, so not all users will see it on day one, but once it begins, it should go quickly.  The video tour is posted below.


BBC Beta Homepage for the Post-PC Era



The BBC is embracing the post-PC world with a reworked homepage at beta.bbc.co.uk. Here’s what it looks like on my TouchPad.

The black arrows on either side slide the screen through three other views. It’s a little bit reminiscent of how the BBC’s iPlayer displays programmes on my Bluray player, which isn’t entirely unsurprising. Some of the other features, such as setting your location, aren’t yet working but will be fixed before this version becomes the standard interface.

Compare this with the current mobile version of the site and you’ll see the change.

The BBC’s homepage was probably due for a refresh anyway, but I think it’s fairly telling that the new page is going to look the way it does. One can only assume that the BBC has stats on the web browsers being used to visit their site and they show the trend towards tablets and mobile devices. Is this the post-PC era with touch now driving the user interface, rather than keyboard and mouse?