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Pin Matrix Terminal

Actuated grid of pins for textured display and tactile interface
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You've probably seen those pin grids at novelty stores, the kind that retain the surface topology of an object pressed against them (there's usually a hand imprint from the last person to play with it). Why not use this as a display? One obvious use would be as an output device for the visually impaired -- similar to a braille terminal, but more flexible. I'm not sure how I'd position the pins, maybe a series of stepper motors on a scanning arm? It might also be fun to use this as an input device, as well.
francois, Jan 05 2001

1992 film "Sneakers" http://us.imdb.com/Title?0105435
The character "Whistler" in this film (a blind computer expert) has a read-out just like this. Maybe. [Jim, Jan 05 2001]

Boxels http://www.halfbake...Boxels_20for_203DTV
If people use it to view dirty stuff, we'll need these. [centauri, Jan 05 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

baked. it's called tactile output http://www.computou...omputer%20mouse.pdf
I met the virtouch people in Jerusalem who discontinued sales (long story) and moved to tactile mouse for blind games [pashute, Oct 04 2004]

Link from [imagin8or]'s anno http://www.rm.mce.u...ayHP/3Dtactile.html
[bristolz, Oct 04 2004]

Researchers at Disney have developed technology that lets users feel the bumps, ridges, creases and edges of an object on a flat touch screen. Now people can feel apples, jellyfish, fossils, hills and valleys on a map thanks to its special algorithm. This Braille presenter blessing for the blind [all that's needed now is a text to Braille converter] is now here. Congrats Francois. I have been waiting for this technology for decades. http://www.youtube....watch?v=zo1n5CyCKr0
Now we can see, hear and feel things on the screen. Various companies are working on adding smells as well [search for "How Internet Odors Will Work" on HowStuffWorks.com]. I look forward to warm human-like arms connected to a PC so soldiers in a far off land can hold hands with and hug their loved ones during a video chat [Sunstone, Oct 09 2013]

Finally baked http://www.i-progra...c-shape-output.html
Looks like they solved the problem of many actuators packed closely together ... by using VERY BIG pixels :-( [gtoal, Nov 17 2013]

[link]






       That's an interesting solution, but I suppose I was thinking of this as a 2-d display rather than a traditional linear braille terminal. This would specifically solve the problem mentioned in the last paragraph of the article: information in tables and spreadsheets could then be rendered. It was my understanding that braille terminals are all linear, but the article implies otherwise.   

       I was also thinking that a display like this could be used as a graphical analog, perhaps, with some image analysis, allowing a blind user to "see" an object in an image. Of course, the cost of the actuators would quickly become prohibitively expensive.
francois, Jan 05 2001
  

       Jim, my memory's a bit vague, but I'm pretty sure that Whistler had a standard braille terminal, displaying one line of braille at a time.   

       As far as blocking goes, I'm sure it would be approximately as effective as current automatic censorware.
francois, Jan 05 2001
  

       Great concept. I don't understand sight well enough to know if this is how the blind 'think' about their environment. For instance would, a variable temperature display convey sensory information better than a three dimensional display? I mean, a combination of hot/cold and vibration could convey scenery better than could depth perception alone.
reensure, Jan 06 2001
  

       I've actually been thinking about a similar idea before (though not concretely enough to remember it until this post reminded me). I was thinking about using piezoelectric filaments bonded to nonpiezoelectric material to create the push/unpush for the pins. (voltage would create a bending, amplifying the intrinsic expand/contract). This has the added benefit of allowing the pins to be touch sensitive with very little extra circuitry. Really cool idea.
badoingdoing, Jan 06 2001
  

       Ideally, you could program the pins for varying response to touch. Some would push easily; otherwise would remain firm. Ideally, you could simulate a variety of surfaces, or even make something like a virtual typewriter if you wanted.   

       How to implement this? Hmm.
egnor, Jan 06 2001
  

       I can't think of any way to move that many pins quickly and without wear. Somebody please correct for my deficiency.   

       Seems to me that a glove with motors that stop motion acording to input from a computer giveing the operator a physical impression of a virtual object is a more practical solution for the input. And VR goggles for output...
James Newton, Aug 05 2002
  

       Very interesting, very interesting... I think the idea here is great. Hm... How to make a higher resolution version of this though...   

       What about this? I'm playing with the idea of a "physical CRT"...   

       So you have, on the touching side, a -mobile(in one dimension) array of pins or small negatively charged particles. On the other side, you have fixed conductive objects of some sort which discharge after some short time span. A beam of electrons, as in a TV, is scanned along the whole plane, varying intensity, and therefore top-pin displacement.   

       This probably, in its current form, is not very feasible because the displacement probably would be that great, nor the force that the pin generates on the hand touching it. But, if someone can think of where to take this idea, by all means...   

       Aha! With the advent of new molecular-scale transistors, maybe a simple amplifying circuit could be made to increase the charge on the conductive under-layer when the electron beam is directed at it, and therefore the repulsive force?
Crazy Bastard, Aug 17 2002
  

       Here's one way you can do it: Nitinol memory wires. Contract when electricity passes through them, heating them up and changing their crystal shape, making the wires shorter and fatter; when they cool down, they revert to their previous form. Also some plastics can do this, but not nearly as repeatably.
Corona688, Dec 07 2002
  

       Not the newest of ideas... << link moved to [link] area, above >>   

       The most promising 3D tactile feedback systems are 'haptic' systems, which give you feedback as you touch a virtual object, but usually with a pen (as in the Sensable Phantom devices, $14k a pop).
imagin8or, Jun 24 2003
  

       wow...i've had the same idea for 20 years...the exact same idea...   

       A video camera is attached the the head or eyeglasses. The output is instead of a video screen, a series of pins. X pixels high by Y pixels wide. These pins push out in in respect to the light level of each pixel. Attach this mechanical grid to the back of the head.   

       Rudimentary sight. It would work..
Dently, Oct 21 2003
  

       Hey, could you move the pins pneumatically? That would allow analog depression and extrusion, and could also provide a way of measuring the input accurately.   

       On that same note, the pins would need to be able to respond to moving gestures, like a sweep of the fingertips across the grid - how about a (very) elastic membrane covering the surface of the grid?
MikeHolio, Oct 22 2003
  

       Recently I had the same idea, google lead me to here, fun to read that perhaps the movie X-man did inspire me to this then not so very original idea...   

       I was planning for electromagnetic movement of each seperate pin mounted/sliding in a small tube where electric current induces a magnetic field moving the pin upward/downwords. I still need to work out how to direct the magnetic force; I was thinking a mechanism simulair to mechanisms used in analog current meters, or (old) electronic switch relais, perhaps also see how direction of magnatic force is done in the maglev (train floating on magnetic force).   

       A nice application in the Internet era would be a feel-me/feel you application or a see me/see you in real faces, or render your favorite actor/actice...
missionimpossible, Jun 07 2004
  

       This is a very interesting concept.   

       I like the pin idea, as a 3D display. Pins could be 3 colours. I visualise a lifesize display with pin throw about 6 inches, maybe as a fancy advertising board. But the difficulty is in the positioning of the pins, and there are so many of them.   

       I ran through some ideas for this, and maybe it prompts someone else with a further idea:   

       Electromagnetic: linear solenoid with spring, or linear motor, or linear actuator, or Use Fleming's Left hand rule (current and magnetic field).
Piezo electric: Rapid change in piezo dimension fires the pin a certain distance. Return by constant vacuum.
Electrostatic: Use capacitance and charge.
Ling, May 31 2005
  

       Baked in the game Riven. I never could figure out what to do with it.
Aq_Bi, May 31 2005
  

       Just saw the "finally baked" MIT media lab link -- freaking awesome
theircompetitor, Nov 29 2013
  
      
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