Tablet Resists Tilting for More Realistic Car Steering Games
Tilt this prototype tablet and it'll push back. Some of the same researchers who created a Doppler-shift-detecting, motion-control program for computers also made a tablet that gives users a sense of torque. They've posted a video and a copy of a paper about the tablet, called GyroTab, which they will present at the Association of Computing Machinery conference that starts May 5.
Torque is the force that pushes objects to rotate around an axis. In GyroTab, torque can make it easier or more difficult for users to tilt the tablet. In their video, the researchers showed the torqued tablet providing resistance to someone rolling a marble over a black hole and steering a car in a racing game.
The torque effects are created with two flat masses — actually hard drive platters, in the prototype — which spin in opposite directions inside the device. When a user tilts the masses, they provide a torque back against the user. The device can also make one mass spin faster than the other to create different levels of torque. An accelerometer and gyroscope let the device sense how it's being tilted by the user.
Overall, the setup is four centimeters thick, but it could be thinner if it were made of custom parts, instead of repurposed hard drives, the researchers said in their paper.
The paper also listed a few ways that testers interpreted the feeling of torque in the GyroTab. Most people felt it as resistance, which could give car racing games realistic resistance to impossible maneuvers or flat tires. The tablet can also feel like it's tugging at the user's hands. A tugging tablet could help people guide remote-control robots in the future, the researchers wrote.
For GyroTab technology to work in actual tablets people buy, it needs to be thinner and use less power, the researchers wrote. It should also change levels of torque more quickly.