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Technology: Computer responds to the tender touch

Technology: Computer responds to the tender touch

作者:邝薪禄  时间:2019-03-02 04:15:02  人气:

By STEVE HOMER Conventional computer screens can now be quickly and easily adapted to respond to the touch of a finger, thanks to an American device which requires changes to be made to the screen itself. Touch-sensitive computer screens have been available for some years, but they are expensive, always need to be installed professionally and are permanently fixed to the screen. However, Touchmate, developed by Visage of Boston, is a slim box, roughly 35 centimetres square and just over 4 centimetres thick, which sits under a normal computer monitor. The monitor stands on a top plate which is separated from the main part of the device by springs. When the monitor is touched, eight sensors in the device detect the force the finger is applying to the screen. By analysing the rotating, tilting and horizontal forces on the screen, the TouchMate calculates where it is being touched and with how much pressure. Three accelerometers attached to the base of the device detect any inadvertent motion of the table or desk underneath so that this movement can be discounted. To calibrate the device, the user simply pokes the side of the monitor in various places and wobbles the table on which it stands. Visage claims it is accurate to the nearest 0.6 of a millimetre and can detect 256 pressure levels. The device can be used with software packages that rely on graphic ‘icons’, such as Microsoft Windows. The average finger may be a little too blunt to select very small icons on screen, but with larger touch-screen targets, such as those used in automated banking machines and information systems, the system works faultlessly. At £650, the Touchmate costs about the same as converting a 35-centimetre monitor to touch-screen working. But it can handle screens up to 48 centimetres, at which size a normal touch-sensitive screen would cost around £1000. Also, it only takes about five minutes to set up. The British company Ellinor is selling the devices in Britain and will soon manufacture them under licence. Grid, which pioneered a range of portable computers controlled with a pen, last week launched what it claims is the world’s first ‘convertible’ computer that can be controlled by a pen or a keyboard. When the computer is closed, a pressure-sensitive screen faces upwards and responds to commands written with a stylus. Beneath the screen lies a full-sized notebook computer keyboard. When the screen is up, it is possible to type in information and use the pen system simultaneously. Although the technology for the pen system and the notebook are both tried and tested,