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Ferrofluid touch interface

Touch interface that uses Ferrofluids to provides tactile feedback
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Freeofluid is fluid with suspended nanoparticles that can be affected by a magnetic field. (See link.)

How about a touch interface that sandwiches a ferrofluid between two layers - bottom layer rigid and top layer semiflexible? A magnetisation grid exists below the rigid layer and drives the ferrofluid to raise and lower dynamic 'bumps' on the semiflexible layer.

This can be used to provide tactile feedback to touchpad interfaces. This would help solve a long-standing problems with touch interfaces - no tactile feedback is presented to the user. (That's the reason people miss buttons on the Apple Iphone )

If the magnetisation grid could also 'sense' the changes in the magnetic field caused by the user pressing the bumps it creates, it could also act as the touch sensor. Otherwise alternative touch sensor tech could work (Capacitive, SAW,...)

If the ferrofluid is transparent, instead of an opaque touchpad, touch screens can be created.

United States Patent 3972595 shows a 1975 patent application which uses opaque ferrofluids in displays device by 'drawing' bubbles across the surface.

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UPDATE: Heh - part of my idea already exists :) Right after I submitted, I thought to search for 'ferrofluid tactile interface' on Google and the first link is 'SnOil' :) - proves that there is nothing new under the sun. However it uses tilt sensors instead of touch sensors - I get the feeling the user is not meant to touch the screen.

UPDATE 2: Another idea better suited to a touchscreen because of transparency is not using a ferrofluid at all - Instead, use a air pump with a fine mesh of air switches to inflate/deflate sections of the semi-flexible top layer very quickly. Again, if air pressure variation is measured using a sensors grid, that could sense user touch.

sonam, Feb 04 2009

Ferrofluid description http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrofluid
Wikipedia entry on 'Ferrofluid' [sonam, Feb 04 2009]

Transparent, Supermagnetic particles by Xerox http://www.winstonb...rticle127_body.html
These are in the Nano-scale [Ling, Sep 27 2013]

[link]






       Nice. +   

       Wecome to the Halfbakery. You might want to consider making your Update 2 a separate idea, because differs substantially from the title of the original idea.
csea, Feb 04 2009
  

       I think moving the ferros around laterally with a magnetic field would require a lot less energy than raising a bump. Also I am not clear how the bump raising would happen - presumably it would require a repulsion of the ferros. Magnets can repel other magnets but cannot repel bits of nonmagnetic stuff. I suppose it could make dents - kind of an antibraille.
bungston, Feb 04 2009
  

       Bung - you can raise bumps in ferrofluid easily (and it's fun). Basically, you make a bump by pulling the surrounding fluid down.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 04 2009
  

       Thanks csea :) I've made the air driven interface a new idea: http://tinyurl.com/cgvw4l   

       Bung - take a look at the Youtube videos on ferrofluids - that's what got me thinking :)
sonam, Feb 04 2009
  

       [WTAGIPBAN] [+]
BunsenHoneydew, Feb 05 2009
  

       (+) How do these types of cool ideas keep slipping through my net?   

       There should be a memo sent out or something...   

       [Bungston] hit on the idea of anti-Braille, but as normal Braille I think this would be a good electronic book for the blind...with drawings and everything....   

       Also, the bumps could "flash" and move, opening many other possibilities as an interface.
Ling, Sep 26 2013
  
      
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