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Ready, aim, double-click
  [vote for,

Touchscreen monitors are an easy-to-use and intuitive method of controlling a computer. However, they have the drawback that you must be within arm's reach of the screen at all times, which is a problem if you want to be able to work while slouching back from the screen or in some other position that increases this distance. Also, you get greasy fingerprints all over your screen, which increase eyestrain and are a pain to clean off.

The proposal: modify existing lightgun video-game controller technology to act as a remote "finger". Instead of reaching out and tapping the screen with a finger, point the MouseGun and pull the trigger. If you have trouble aiming, by constantly keeping track of where the Mousegun is pointed on screen, a small reticule can be displayed (like a traditional curser). Active tracking like this this would necesesitate some sort of coordinate system on the screen that the gun could "see", but this could be displayed in infrared or ultraviolet and thus would not interfere with normal viewing (granted this requires a new monitor design, but touchscreen monitors do too). Alternatively, just put a laser sight on the MouseGun that is slightly offset from the actual "click" so it doesn't interfere with the gun's target identification.

Besides ease and comfort of use, it's also fun--hold office contests to see who can open and close ten windows the fastest!

5th Earth, Jun 12 2004

ACT-Labs PC USB Light Gun review http://www.retrobla...eviews/actlabs.html
[benjamin, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

In Nintendo's "Duck Hunt," how does the TV know when you've hit a duck? http://www.straight...columns/010511.html
"In short, the TV emits the light pulse and the gun detects it, not the other way around." [half, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

How does the light gun for a video game work? http://www.howstuff...com/question273.htm
[half, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]


       I think the "virtual hand" moving stuff around on the "desktop" is more intuitive. Plus, this allows the possibility of snipers shooting the "purge all" button from the hotel across the street. Still, it's fun, and might make PC ports of some arcade titles a lot better.
nick_n_uit, Jun 12 2004

       I'm going to remain neutral and not vote. Technically, this idea IS somewhat baked in the form of controllers for game consoles, but I get the idea and like the concept.   

       You know what? I change my mind. I just imagined myself laying in bed playing on the computer from 10 feet away. [+]
Pocketassreturn, Jun 12 2004

       // this requires a new monitor design //
Why? Do you not like CRT monitors?

       The ACT-Labs PC USB Light Gun exactly bakes this.
benjamin, Jun 12 2004

       Benjamin, the idea is *NOT* a lightgun for PCs to play games with. I am well aware such devices exist, hence the phrase "existing lightgun video-game controller technology." The idea for the use of a lightgun as a mouse/trackball replacement, for control in the conventional OS interface.   

       Maybe I should refile this under "software."   

       Also, I have nothing against CRT monitors. This system is in fact perfectly compatable with CRT technology--even existing technology. The requirement for a MINOR redesign is only necessary for an OPTIONAL system of tracking where the gun is pointed. In fact, if you are really attached to your current monitor, this system could probably be integrated into a clear film you place over the screen. As an analogy, you cannot install touchscreen software on a computer and then use a conventional CRT display--there is a hardware requirement, but it has nothing to do with the "CRT-ness" of the monitor.   

       I feel these points were made sufficiently clear in the text, but I guess not. I hope you take the time to read this annotation carefully enough to understand it.
5th Earth, Jun 12 2004

       Crazy. Why replace a mouse with a new input device just because you can't be bothered to actually touch a touch screen? To sum up: + vote.
RobertKidney, Jun 12 2004

       Can this be built into the glass holding my whiskey sour?

+, btw.
ldischler, Jun 12 2004

       Sounds like fun, shooting icons.
menotyou, Jun 12 2004

       I thought of this once, but my own problems with it came in the form of how to you make it a replacement as opposed to a suppliment? That big bulky gun just won't do for normal mouse use, I'd suggest maybe build it into a ring that would go on your dominant hand's middle finger, and make clicking... something... and have the cord... go around.... somewhere...   

       Yeah, I didn't think it through very much. Any ideas how to solve the problem of making it a handy tool that would actually replace the ball mouse I have by my keyboard right now?
Cheekio, Jun 13 2004

       [5th Earth] - I carefully read your annotation. Then I re-read the idea, then the annotation again. I think one of us is missing something.   

       Not since EGA graphics cards has there been a dedicated light pen/gun interface for PCs. Any modern pen/gun emulates a mouse. Since usb came along, pens/gun(s?) emulate a usb mouse - no special software is required; the OS just detects another mouse. Thus, you can use such devices as mouse/trackball replacements, for the control of a conventional OS interface.   

       My point about CRT monitors was that they allow the use of conventional light pens/guns, which don't require any additions/modifications to the monitor.
By setting the brightness of the monitor such that logical black is not quite zero-output (which is a common setting anyway), the pen/gun can detect its location even when pointed at a black object. Thus, the tracking system you speak of can be implemented in software in the form of a mouse cursor.
benjamin, Jun 13 2004

       Yes, but the gun cannot track when it is pointed at something that is of a uniform color. If the guns sees, "blue, blue, blue, blue..." how does it know whether it's pointing at the same spot, or moving across a large, uniformly blue expanse? If there is more than one blue icon on the screen, and you click, how do you know which one you clicked on?
5th Earth, Jun 13 2004

       Only tangentially related I suppose, but I wonder if a "gun" couldn't be emulated optically. A camera in the gun has a wide enough field of view (to see the entire screen when any one corner is of the screen is centered in the sensor) and resolution to detect a pre-determined shape on the display, be it CRT, plasma, LCD, e-paper or whatever.   

       As the camera points toward, say the upper right of the screen, the software detects that the cursor is no longer centered in its image and sends mouse movement signals to move the pointer until it is again in the center of the field of view of the camera.   

       Resolution could be an issue. Detecting the cursor of varying scale might be a problem (camera closer to and further from display). Pinpoint accuracy could be another.   

       Sorry, I don't know all the technical terms to properly explain this and it's probably been done, or not been done for good reason. It was just a thought that passed through my mind.
half, Jun 13 2004

       [5th Earth] - As I suspected, you don't know how a light pen/gun works.   

       A CRT monitor has an electron beam that scans across the screen from the top-left corner to the top-right. Then it moves back to the left and one row down, and scans across again. It repeats this over the whole screen, and then starts again at the top. The resulting pattern of horizontal 'scan lines' is called a 'raster'; the process of refreshing the screen called 'raster scanning'.   

       A light pen has a small sensor tip that can only see a very small area of the screen (ideally one pixel or so) at once. Likewise, a light gun has a lens on the front that provides focus such that for typical screen-to-gun distances, the gun can only see a very small area of the screen.   

       The pen/gun has two connections to the computer; with modern add-on devices these are actually two separate physical connections. One connection intercepts the computer-to-monitor (typically VGA) cable. This includes horizontal and vertical retrace signals which tell the monitor where the electron beam should be at any instant. Thus, by intercepting these signals, the light pen/gun knows where the electron beam is. The second connection (typically USB) is used to report the x/y location back to the computer.   

       With the gun pointed at a certain point on the screen, eventually the raster scan process will reach the point that the gun is looking at - at which time there'll be a flash of light. The gun knows where abouts the electron beam is, so it just reports that back to the computer.   

       This technique won't work with LCDs or similar as they pretty much light up the whole screen at once.
benjamin, Jun 13 2004

       I stand corrected. In that case, we just use the VGA-interrupt method and pretend LCDs and plasma don't exist.
5th Earth, Jun 14 2004

       But, you deleted it.
half, Jun 14 2004

       Really? When was this? I don't recall that. (Which doesn't mean it didn't happen.)   

       I'd be surprised to find that I'd marked a legitimate idea for deletion. I'd be more surprised if I marked something for deletion simply because it used to be here. I'd be even more surprised if a moderator would have allowed me to mark it on those grounds. I think they should have told me to go jump in a lake, as you should have also.
half, Jun 14 2004

       What I don't get is why everybody fishboned your version, Desertfox, when mine seems to be going over pretty well, technical issues aside. If they really are the same idea, wouldn't they both have gone over the same way?   

       At any rate, I can honestly say I am unaware of your posting--indeed, I find it hard to determine how I COULD be aware of it, if it has been deleted. Deleted ideas don't exist anymore, DF. I'm sorry too, but if this is the only instance of the idea in the HB, then you have no grounds to complain.   

       I don't mistrust you--you've never done anything to give me grounds not to believe you are telling the truth--but what you're saying is like saying, "I'm mad at Nintendo because I thought of platform games first, only nobody I know liked it so I burned all the plans and documentation, so no one could see if it had been thought of before."
5th Earth, Jun 14 2004

       I'm a bit confused like the other guy why any old monitor won't work. They work just fine with gaming lightguns and stuff. For example Nintendo's gun obviously knows where it is pointed when I click the trigger and miss the duck. Can't it be designed to know where the gun is pointing all the time and show a cursor there? And of course equate a pulled triger witha mouse click. In fact I think my profs used similar devices they waved around in the air to move cursors around on projection screens. Never did figure out how those worked.
tedhaubrich, Jun 14 2004

       "Can't it be designed to know where the gun is pointing all the time and show a cursor there?" It's not quite that simple. That's what I was musing about above.   

       See links.
half, Jun 14 2004

       // It's not quite that simple //   

       It's not all that hard either, though. The 'Duck Hunt' method is a very crude system that only requires a light sensor + electronics capable of responding to frame-by-frame changes in brightness. A "proper" light gun has ~pixel accuracy (many MHz timing accuracy). The second method described in the howstuffworks link is comes close, but uses a solid white screen (in order to be able to get away with a less sensitive gun).
benjamin, Jun 15 2004

       Baked: Wiimote (2006).
notexactly, Apr 19 2018

       //The proposal: modify existing lightgun video-game controller technology to act as a remote "finger"//   

       Someone probably already said this but I'm too lazy to read this morning so..   

       Unfortunately light guns (& so the mouse gun proposed) won't work with any modern televisions.   

       Light guns exploit the way old fashioned boob tubes work, you gotta have the tubes to have a light gun, the technology used in plasma & all other modern flatter screens is simply incompatible with that used for light guns. You've got to have cathode ray tubes in your screen to use a light gun.   

       Use anything else (any other method), and it's not a light gun.
Skewed, Apr 20 2018


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