nano touch microsoft research & hasso plattner institute

patrick baudisch
       nano touch

Back-of-device touch input can enable pointing input on very small screens. This enables building new types of devices, such as touch-capable electronic jewelry. Here are four of the back-of-device designs we envision (a) pendant, (b) clip-on (b) watch, and (b) ring. Screen diagonals range from 2.5" to less than half an inch.

We explore how to add pointing input capabilities to very small screen devices. On first sight, touch-screens seem to allow for particular compactness, because they integrate input and screen into the same physical space. The opposite is true, however, because the user’s fingers occlude contents and prevent precision. So while touch was shown to work well for 3"+ screens, the size of these devices makes them hard to carry while physically active or with fashionable clothing. A half- or quarter size touch screen device, in contrast, is limited to a small number of on-screen objects and/or requires a stylus (e.g. palm watch).

We argue that the key to touch-enabling very small devices is to use touch on the device backside. In order to study this, we have created the 2.4” prototype device shown below; we simulate screens smaller than that by masking the screen. In a user study, participants completed a pointing task successfully across all (2.4" to 0.3") display sizes when using a back-of device interface. The touchscreen-based control condition (enhanced with the shift technique), in contrast, failed for screen diagonals below 1 inch. A second study provides design guidelines for practitioners who want to design for back-of-device interaction (details: CHI 2009 paper).

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nano touch offers occlusion-free pointing input fast enough to enable interactive games (download  WMV (10M) ) nano touch facilitates discoverability by simulating transparency. Unlike its predecessor lucidTouch, boom and camera are gone

multiblending icon

Baudisch, P. and Chu, G.
Back-of-device Interaction allows creating very small touch devices
In Proceedings of CHI 2009, Boston, MS, April 4-9, 2009, 10 pages.
PDF (1.8M) | PPT (17.1M) | PPT with Videos (44.7M)


multiblending icon Engadget
NanoTouch: like your parent's LucidTouch, but now with more nano!
Dec 19th 2008

multiblending icon Slashdot
See-Through Touchscreen Solves Fat Finger Problem
Dec 19th 2008

multiblending icon Barras, C.
Fat fingers no problem with 'see-through' touchscreen.
In The New Scientist. Dec 18, 2008

multiblending icon Green, K.
What's Next for Computer Interfaces? Touch tricks for small and large displays could be the next big thing.
In MIT Technology Review. Dec 11, 2008

In collaboration primarily with Gerry Chu during his summer 2008 internship at MSR, as well as with Roz Ho, Georg Petschnigg, David Wykes, and many others at Microsoft. Nano touch is related to lucid touch.