Cute but useless?

Chris Harrison – Scratch Input

We employ a simple sensor that can be easily coupled with existing surfaces, such as walls and tables, turning them into large, unpowered and ad hoc finger input surfaces. Our sensor is sufficiently small that it could be incorporated into a mobile device, allowing any suitable surface on which it rests to be appropriated as a gestural input surface.

I’m sure it will be useful for something eventually, but as long as you need your gadget to have the input attached to it, you’ve already got the gadget there. I wonder, though, if it can’t be used to do away with mechanical components in certain kinds of remote controls. Imagine a set of “sliders” each of which is simply a surface with a slightly different texture (a different configuration of ridges, so that a more or less constant-speed scratch will yield detectably different signals). There’s a label printed over each one saying what it does. You substitute a bunch of signal processing for cheap analog parts, but sometimes that might be a good idea.

Or you could just use it to do remote handwriting recognition.

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