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Posted by Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral
Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of
User is currently offline
on Friday, 04 May 2012
in Classic & Cutting-Edge Technology

Disney Says: "Touché"

doorknob jppiThere are several memorable scenes in Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland released in 1951 but everyone should recall Alice’s frantic and weepy encounter with the talking doorknob. The angry doorknob prevents her from leaving the room she has landed in after falling down the rabbit hole.  Alice takes the first logical step when faced with a door: she tries opening it only to find it locked.

Perhaps it was this scene the team at Disney Research in Pittsburgh had in mind when exploring a form of smart technology known as ”capacitive touch sensing” or the same magic responsible for smartphone touchscreens. They have applied it to a doorknob that knows when to lock or unlock depending on the way it is touched.  Alice is probably stamping her little Mary Jane clad foot that it’s 61 years too late for her to utilize this magical doorknob instead of the one she encountered.

They call their new toy Touché and the Disney scientists partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to develop the technology.

Touché uses Swept Frequency Capacitive Sensing (SFCS) to detect “signals across a broad range of frequencies.”  This range of allows Touché to understand the simple “touch events” like the tap to complicated configurations of the body. Researchers explain that this means Touché can “sense how it is being touched, or might sense the body configuration of the person doing the touching.”

"Signal frequency sweeps have been used for decades in wireless communication, but as far as we know, nobody previously has attempted to apply this technique to touch interaction," said Ivan Poupyrev, senior research scientist at Disney Research. "Yet, in our laboratory experiments, we were able to enhance a broad variety of objects with high-fidelity touch sensitivity. When combined with gesture recognition techniques, Touché demonstrated recognition rates approaching 100 percent. That suggests it could immediately be used to create new and exciting ways for people to interact with objects and the world at large."

The team noted and demonstrated that Touché can have many practical applications now that technology has advanced enough to make microprocessors fast and efficient. The microprocessors can handle all the data related to SCFS. Devices continue to shrink and become part of our everyday landscapes (like in a smart home) and that makes the team excited about Touché’s future.

Munehiko Sato, a Disney intern and a Ph.D. student in engineering at the University of Tokyo said, “This might enable us to one day do away with keyboards, mice and perhaps even conventional touchscreens for many applications," he said.

Disney is going to sprinkle the world with a little bit of pixie dust and a whole lot of technology to make our objects work as seemingly automated as their theme parks.

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Samina Cabral is a native Southern Californian who now resides on the shores of Lake Erie in Northeast Ohio. Samina and her husband believe that sustainability starts in the home and try to live their lives as simply as possible without compromising comfort.

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1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.

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1945: Delivered to US Army.

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1950: Acquired by the US Navy on July 1, 1950 and placed in service as USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1954: The movie, Mister Roberts, was made on the USNS New Bedford (T-AKL-17).

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1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.

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1963: Reclassified as Miscellaneous Unclassified (IX-308).

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1971: The New Bedford (IX-308) served as a Torpedo Test Firing Vessel in the Puget Sound area.

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1994: Ceremony in New Bedford.

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1995: The ship was struck from the Naval Register on April 4.

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2004: The Sea Bird's current disposition is a tuna long liner (fishing boat) out of San Diego, CA.

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2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.

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2007: The Sea Bird was drydocked for renovations.

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2008: The Sea Bird setting sail to Sea-Tac in Seattle, WA.

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2009 - 2010: The Sea Bird is currently docked at Seattle Sea-Tac.

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