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Microsoft Patents Shape-Shifting Display

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-the-odo-kind dept.

Displays 112

Stoobalou writes "In layman's terms, Microsoft's patent is for a special type of touch-screen display which includes a 'shape-memory' layer at its base. When activated by a special frequency of ultraviolet light, individual blocks — not-coincidentally the same size as a pixel on the display part — can be raised or lowered, lending the displayed image physical texture."

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What do they call it? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374178)

Odo?

Re:What do they call it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34374240)

Odo?

Dominion Display. To hell with retinas!

Re:What do they call it? (1)

neokushan (932374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375714)

Codename: Founder

Re:What do they call it? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374404)

what about `ANotObviousPatentAtLast`

Lemme guess.. (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374182)

No pictures.

Re:Lemme guess.. (2, Funny)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374316)

While there's no sign of a product using Microsoft's patented technology on the horizon...

It's a patent announcement, not a product announcement. You've technically seen every picture of every product making use of it.

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374372)

I know, but I was hoping for maybe a concept drawing or something =( I'm salivating over the very idea of this technology.

Re:Lemme guess.. (3, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374386)

Didn't patents used to require at least a prototype?

I bet someone has already patented terra-forming and dyson spheres.

Re:Lemme guess.. (4, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374682)

Didn't patents used to require at least a prototype?

I bet someone has already patented terra-forming and dyson spheres.

Not for the past hundred years or so. People realized that requiring prototypes made it impossible for small companies or individual inventors to get patents, particularly where the prototype alone might cost a million dollars to make. They also realized that if the description and figures were good enough, that one of ordinary skill in the art wouldn't need a physical prototype to envision the invention. And finally, they realized that a "prototype" of a small molecule or a genetically modified bacterium was kinda pointless, since no one was going to pick it up to look at anyway.

Furthermore, so what if someone patents terra-forming and Dyson spheres? Are they going to be built within the next 20 years? No? So they'll be public domain and can never be patented, without further improvements on the earlier patent. And you're complaining that this is a bad thing?

Re:Lemme guess.. (3, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374744)

Copyrights used to have a fixed length too. If patents ever get their own Mickey Mouse, then it's going to be 25 years, then 50, etc.

Re:Lemme guess.. (2, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374784)

Copyrights used to have a fixed length too. If patents ever get their own Mickey Mouse, then it's going to be 25 years, then 50, etc.

Prove it. Patents have never been extended in the 220 years since the first Patent Act (other than the 3 year difference between filing date and issue date to comply with an international treaty). Unlike copyright, there is tremendous industry pressure against extending patents. Other companies want to use your new super-efficient power source... They couldn't care less about your new pop song.

Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375646)

"Other companies want to use your new super-efficient power source... They couldn't care less about your new pop song."

Your assumption that the most useful thing that may be copyrighted is a pop song is ridiculous. Other companies want to use source code, which is copyrighted not patented. Indeed, it is the GPL [gnu.org] , which is a form of copyright known as copyleft, that allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (2, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375876)

"Other companies want to use your new super-efficient power source... They couldn't care less about your new pop song."

Your assumption that the most useful thing that may be copyrighted is a pop song is ridiculous. Other companies want to use source code, which is copyrighted not patented. Indeed, it is the GPL [gnu.org] , which is a form of copyright known as copyleft, that allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free.

Actually, the release of the author's rights is what "allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free." If copyleft did not exist, free software still could - see, e.g. any free software prior to 2007, v1 of the GPL.

That said, copyright protects only that specific embodiment of the work. Other companies may want to use the source code to save time and expense of independent recreation, but if they do perform that independent recreation, they do not infringe copyright at all. That's why patent rights are stronger - they protect even against independent recreation.

This still doesn't help the primary argument, which was that "zomg patent rights are going to be extended for hundreds of years," to which I say, FUD is not evidence. Provide some evidence to counter the evidence to the contrary over the past 220 years, or accept that your fears are unfounded.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375954)

"Actually, the release of the author's rights is what "allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free.""

You don't understand the GPL at all. It is control of the author's rights, protected by copyright, that allows the author to control how others use his work.

As to the rest of your post, just admit that you were foolish to suggest that the importance of copyright was about pop songs and move on. Anything less just makes it clear that you are afraid to admit your mistakes.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376472)

"Actually, the release of the author's rights is what "allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free.""

You don't understand the GPL at all. It is control of the author's rights, protected by copyright, that allows the author to control how others use his work.

No, I think you don't understand copyright. The GPL doesn't give you rights, it waives rights you already have in a very explicit manner - essentially a license. Hence the "L".

As to the rest of your post, just admit that you were foolish to suggest that the importance of copyright was about pop songs and move on. Anything less just makes it clear that you are afraid to admit your mistakes.

I concede that yes, pop songs are not the only thing protected by copyright. A reader debating in good faith, of course, would readily accept that and understand that the point was that the protections of copyrights and patents are different. You are a good faith debater, no?

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377506)

"No, I think you don't understand copyright. The GPL doesn't give you rights, it waives rights you already have in a very explicit manner - essentially a license. Hence the "L"."

A License does not waive rights, it grants rights that the Licensor must have over said product in the first place. You may be familiar with a company called Microsoft. Give their attorneys a call and explain to them how their EULA gives away their rights to their binaries. Then show up at the next lawsuit over a GPL violation and tell the judge everyone can go home, because the GPL gives away rights rather than protecting them.

"A reader debating in good faith, of course, would readily accept that and understand that the point was that the protections of copyrights and patents are different. You are a good faith debater, no?"

An astute reader would recognize that the person doing the comparing lacked a basic understanding of one of the matters of subject, and was therefore unqualified to enter into said debate, which is what happened here. A good faith debater would not enter into a debate with someone unarmed for said debate, but would instead attempt to educate the other would be debater so that they will not enter perpetually unarmed into debate after debate and spread ignorance like a virus.

Alas, it happens all too often that the ignorant cling violently to their ignorance and shout it from the rooftops rather than taking the opportunity to learn something :-(

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378194)

"No, I think you don't understand copyright. The GPL doesn't give you rights, it waives rights you already have in a very explicit manner - essentially a license. Hence the "L"."

A License does not waive rights, it grants rights that the Licensor must have over said product in the first place. You may be familiar with a company called Microsoft. Give their attorneys a call and explain to them how their EULA gives away their rights to their binaries.

I would, but they already know, and it would be insulting and condescending to try. You, apparently, have no such knowledge, so instead of Microsoft, I shall attempt to explain it to you. Copyright, like rights in all property, give the author a right to exclude others from using the subject of the copyright - specifically, to copy, distribute, prepare derivative works, etc.

A license doesn't grant another person a right to copy the work - those rights cannot be given, except as the subject of a total assignment from the copyright owner. Instead, the license is a waiver of the copyright owner's right to exclude, saying "I will not sue you for copying my work."

Incidentally, this is why licenses may not be assignable, while rights always are.

This has been "licensing intellectual property 101".

Then show up at the next lawsuit over a GPL violation and tell the judge everyone can go home, because the GPL gives away rights rather than protecting them.

So, now in light of the above explanation, do you understand how the GPL neither "gives away rights" nor "protects them", but instead is a license or waiver of the author's copyrights?

Nah. That would be too much to ask.

An astute reader would recognize that the person doing the comparing lacked a basic understanding of one of the matters of subject, and was therefore unqualified to enter into said debate, which is what happened here.

Exactly, my dear boy. Hopefully, I've advanced your knowledge somewhat.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378334)

"Copyright, like rights in all property, give the author a right to exclude others from using the subject of the copyright - specifically, to copy, distribute, prepare derivative works, etc." ... "This has been "licensing intellectual property 101".

You failed miserably. Again, licensing the work for a specific use, does not invalidate the copyright. The author still holds the copyright, and can choose to make it available under an alternative license. In other words (taken from Wikipedia):

"Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by the law of a jurisdiction to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work.

Again, making it available under the terms of a license does not invalidate the copyright. Now off you go ...

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378474)

"Copyright, like rights in all property, give the author a right to exclude others from using the subject of the copyright - specifically, to copy, distribute, prepare derivative works, etc." ... "This has been "licensing intellectual property 101".

You failed miserably. Again, licensing the work for a specific use, does not invalidate the copyright.

Gosh, I said that?
Let's see... control-f, "invalid"...

I see.

Have you always had this hallucination problem?

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378586)

Yes, you said that:

"Actually, the release of the author's rights is what "allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free." "

Again, they do not relinquish the rights. They simply grant the right to others as well, so long as they conform to the terms of the license. They still hold said rights and can grant the rights to others under a different license. No doubt this last post from you is just the first of many times that you will try to claim you did not say the ridiculous things you said, so:
Plonk

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378968)

Yes, you said that:

"Actually, the release of the author's rights is what "allows us to have excellent software accessible to all for free." "

Huh. I don't see "invalid" in there either. Are you sure you're thinking of something I said and not... nothing?

Heh, no, in all honesty, I think I figured out what you're getting at: you don't understand what the word "release" means, and are interpreting it variously as "invalidating" or "relinquishing". I'm pretty sure that's your difficulty.

Unless, of course, you really do think I said "invalidating", in spite of that word never appearing prior to your post.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379226)

"Heh, no, in all honesty, I think I figured out what you're getting at: you don't understand what the word "release" means, and are interpreting it variously as "invalidating" or "relinquishing".

One of us doesn't understand what the word means [thefreedictionary.com] in a legal context. The author does not release his rights, except in specific accordance with the terms of the contract between the Licensor and the Licensee. You, perhaps mistakenly rather than in an attempt to corrupt, left that detail out. The Author continues to hold the copyright and all said exclusive rights, which your omission of aforementioned detail implied.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379668)

"Heh, no, in all honesty, I think I figured out what you're getting at: you don't understand what the word "release" means, and are interpreting it variously as "invalidating" or "relinquishing".

One of us doesn't understand what the word means [thefreedictionary.com] in a legal context.

... you do know that you linked to "relinquish", not "release"? And that what you linked to is just a list of similar and related concepts?

Or maybe you don't know that, and you actually believe that the legal definition of "relinquish" is "abandon, abdicate, abjure, cast off, cease, cede, deliver, demit, desert, disclaim, discontinue, dismiss, do without, drop, eliminate, forgo, forsake, give over, give up, give up claim to, go without, hand over, jettison, lay aside, leave, let go, part with, pull out, quit, reject, release, relinquere, renounce, resign, rid, sacrifice, secede from, sign away, spare, surrender, throw away, turn one's back on, vacate, waive, withdraw, yield," since those all obviously mean the exact same thing.

The author does not release his rights, except in specific accordance with the terms of the contract between the Licensor and the Licensee. You, perhaps mistakenly rather than in an attempt to corrupt, left that detail out.

What detail? What the fark are you talking about? I never used the word "invalidate", and now you're claiming instead that I used "relinquish" and now you're on to some "detail" that I've left out of... something?

Please, do us all a favor - attempt to put a paragraph together that comprises a complete thought, without some strange copypasted link in the middle of it and reference to things being "left out".

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378354)

If you grant a right to someone else that was previously yours exclusively, you are waiving your right to exclusivity.

God, why do these all become such semantic games?

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378610)

"If you grant a right to someone else that was previously yours exclusively, you are waiving your right to exclusivity. ... God, why do these all become such semantic games?"

Probably because semantics are important. For example, you just played a semantic game. Nobody said anything remotely close to what you said. The claim was made that the GPL works by removing rights from the copyright holder, when no such removal of rights occurs.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378670)

If you grant a person a license to use your work, you formerly had a right to legal recourse if they used your work according to the terms dictated in the license, and now you don't.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378712)

Did you even read what you wrote?

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378862)

Yes. Did you? Try it again and you'll see it.

You create. You can sue someone who uses it improperly, and win. That is a right.

You grant a license. The licensee uses your work. You used to be able to sue them for such a use. Now you can't. Your aforementioned right no longer exists.

See? Pretty straightforward.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379048)

"You grant a license. The licensee uses your work. You used to be able to sue them for such a use. Now you can't. Your aforementioned right no longer exists"

You always have the right to sue someone. You mistakenly claim that a right is lost. In fact, licensing does not relinquish your rights. You retain the copyright, and the rights that go with it. You confusion seems to stem from a complete misunderstanding of the term exclusive rights [wikipedia.org] . You are confusing it with a right to exclusivity. This is why semantics are important, BTW.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34379240)

and win

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378718)

(assuming you had such a right in the first place. Plenty of asshole EULAs give the user 'permission' to do things which they were already entitled to do.)

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

spazdor (902907) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378324)

You don't understand the GPL at all. It is control of the author's rights, protected by copyright, that allows the author to control how others use his work.

No, I think you don't understand copyright. The GPL doesn't give you rights, it waives rights you already have in a very explicit manner - essentially a license. Hence the "L".

Read that sentence again. It doesn't claim that the GPL gives you rights. It claims that copyright does, and that the control given by copyright allows the author to dictate the terms upon which licensees may use the work. You aren't saying different things at all here.

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376510)

He wrote an entire post about the duration of patents and to contrast it with copyrights he took a random example - a pop song, and you nitpick over that? Whats wrong with you? He might as well have said: "They couldn't care less about your new movie/computer game/software/book". It was just an example to show that in patents there is industry pressure not to extend the duration of patents and in copyright there is no such pressure. He never said this was the most important thing protected under copyright laws.
Yeah, he is totally afraid to admit he is wrong...

Re:Ahem. Pop Song? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377554)

"He wrote an entire post about the duration of patents and to contrast it with copyrights he took a random example - a pop song, and you nitpick over that? Whats wrong with you? "

If you had paid attention to the rest of the thread, you would quickly realize that I indeed identified the fact that the poster lacks basic understanding of copyright, and specifically how it is extremely important to every high tech company on the planet. Therefore, his statement that companies don't care about copyright is, excuse the pun, patently absurd.

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375284)

Patents already got Mickey mouse. Just look at Rambus, constantly extending original patent.

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374802)

People realized that requiring prototypes made it impossible for small companies or individual inventors to get patents, particularly where the prototype alone might cost a million dollars to make.

And of course, it also make's it very expensive for large companies to come up with a slew of extremely embryonic ideas and patent them.

Of course, it does help the small inventor by quickly showing him that any creative effort on his part is a complete waste of time, and he would be better off getting a job making the coffee in Microsoft.

Re:Lemme guess.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34375094)

Furthermore, so what if someone patents terra-forming and Dyson spheres. Are they going to be built within the next 20 years? No? So they'll be public domain and can never be patented, without further improvements on the earlier patent

It should be obvious the main concern comes in the form of trolls filing speculative patents against future trends with no R&D investment or intention of trying to develop product just to extract money from the system. By requiring a viable implementation before filing you sidestep this issue.

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376632)

>So they'll be public domain and can never be patented
I am a newb when it comes to patents, does that mean that in 20 years the patent becomes public domain and is now able to be used at will by anyone without paying royalties for the technology, or
that i can come up with something that does the same thing, but still have to do my own r&d, and possibly have diff. tech but achieving the same result.?

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376784)

>So they'll be public domain and can never be patented I am a newb when it comes to patents, does that mean that in 20 years the patent becomes public domain and is now able to be used at will by anyone without paying royalties for the technology, or that i can come up with something that does the same thing, but still have to do my own r&d, and possibly have diff. tech but achieving the same result.?

20 years from the date of filing (or earliest priority date), barring patent term extension due to delay by the USPTO's backlog, the tech in the patent becomes free and clear to anyone. No royalties, etc.

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

JustinOpinion (1246824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376890)

I think the point of people who ask "Where is the prototype?" is not so much that they want a physical object to actually exist, but that they want the patent to be specific enough that it applies to a particular real-world instantiation of the concept, and is not an attempt to patent the concept as a whole.

Ideally, a patent is a sort of contract between the inventor and the public. The public (via the government/patent office) says "We will give you the incentive of a temporary monopoly if you publish all the details of your invention, so that everyone can benefit from it after the patent expires." The idea is to both encourage innovation and to release implementation details into the public domain (otherwise everything would be a trade secret and there would be lots of duplicated effort). But that contract is broken when the inventor only releases vague information, not providing the difficult implementation details.

So I don't think the inventor needs to have a physical prototype in his garage. But the patent needs to be sufficiently detailed that someone (either the inventor or someone else) can go off and build a prototype. If it takes tons of additional R&D to go from the patent to something even vaguely useful, then I question whether that patent should have been awarded in the first place, since it didn't contain enough detail to fulfill its end of the contract.

Re:Lemme guess.. (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377036)

Ideally, a patent is a sort of contract between the inventor and the public. The public (via the government/patent office) says "We will give you the incentive of a temporary monopoly if you publish all the details of your invention, so that everyone can benefit from it after the patent expires." The idea is to both encourage innovation and to release implementation details into the public domain (otherwise everything would be a trade secret and there would be lots of duplicated effort). But that contract is broken when the inventor only releases vague information, not providing the difficult implementation details.

Yes, but at the same time, that information was never intended to be in the patent. Instead, because by filing a patent application, you are not penalized by public disclosure, we get a lot more white papers, specifications, RFCs, etc. than we would otherwise, had trade secrets been the only available protection.

So I don't think the inventor needs to have a physical prototype in his garage. But the patent needs to be sufficiently detailed that someone (either the inventor or someone else) can go off and build a prototype. If it takes tons of additional R&D to go from the patent to something even vaguely useful, then I question whether that patent should have been awarded in the first place, since it didn't contain enough detail to fulfill its end of the contract.

Sure. That's the way the law currently is - it's 35 USC 112, first paragraph, and states that the specification has to include sufficient written description to enable one skilled in the art to make the invention without undue experimentation. In software, that doesn't mean you need the full source code - a sufficiently detailed flow chart would enable a good programmer to recreate the technology.

Re:Lemme guess.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377772)

[...] the patent needs to be sufficiently detailed that someone (either the inventor or someone else) can go off and build a prototype. If it takes tons of additional R&D to go from the patent to something even vaguely useful, then I question whether that patent should have been awarded in the first place, since it didn't contain enough detail to fulfill its end of the contract.

I agree with the sentimat but I think it's unfair for you to require the prototype to be "useful". The patent should contain enough information to make a "proof of concept". The proof of concept need not be useful, but must demonstrate that using the information in the patent you can produce something which can acomplish to some degree what the patent claims.

An example of this would be the Wright Flyer, which wasn't sufficient to be a useful aircraft (short range, limited altitude, effectively no payload capacity), but proved that a heavier than air powered craft could be made to fly by using the methods developed by the Wright brothers.

So for example device consisting of a screen which displayes 3 buttons, and registers touch events, causing the screen texture to change based on which button was touched, while not useful would be an adiquat proof of concept for a vairable texture touch screen patent. So as long as the patent discloses enough information to build such a proof of concept I don't see a problem with the patent being vauge that additional R&D would be needed to figure out how to make say a viable keyboard out of the tech.

Patent of Dyson Sphere (1)

idji (984038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377202)

Patent of Dyson Sphere [espacenet.com] is already here.

decent touch screen keyboard? (2, Interesting)

DavMz (1652411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374218)

The first application I see for this is a decent touch screen keyboard, if this shape-memory effect can be triggered fast enough. I'd feel much more comfortable typing on an tablet if there was some feedback to the typing.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374262)

The first application I see is *finally* a decent braille screen for the blind. They can even dispense with the LCD screen altogether, to make the device affordable.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (2, Interesting)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374324)

I'd heard that with the advent of voice synthesizers and computers, Braille was going out of favor. But if this works, it could be a better experience than a computer yapping at you while you surf the web, and make smartphones usable in quiet places.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374522)

Having helped people using screen readers - a linear form of output, like speech, does NOT do an adequate job of relaying a 3-dimensional output (x,y,color). A braille display, and one with textures for various gui elements... seems nice to me.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374544)

I'd heard that with the advent of voice synthesizers and computers, Braille was going out of favor.

I am not saying you are wrong, but most people I know that read still prefer to read versus listening to audio books.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (2, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374342)

Excellent idea if the pixels can be raised far enough and stay raised without whoever is touch-reading them getting skin cancer from the UV.

I don't geddit...

There are plenty of materials that will change their properties based on the basic electric field. This is the principle on which LCD's work. It should be possible to "stiffen" or "loosen" a display selectively without the UV bit just by adding a 4th "stiffness" pixel element similar to the 4th pixel element on Sharp displays. If that is too difficult, simulating different texture by vibrating through the use of a pieso-element in place of the fourth pixel is also an option. Tons of ways of doing this. Why UV?

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374518)

UV is not harmful. Stop being silly.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

lavacano201014 (999580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374934)

sunburns

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375694)

A specific high-energy frequency of ultra-violet that causes ionization. High-power blacklights don't cause sunburns but they're UV; low-power sterilizing lights cause skin burns and cancer.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (2, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374800)

It specifically says "A special frequency of UV" - I imagine you can't really go quicker or slower than that value by much. It's not so much as "Why UV" as "Why THAT Frequency in particular".

What you are asking is like, Why 'Visible light'? But the Article specifically says 'yellow'.

I imagine that might help you solve the mysteries of how this device works. But I'm personally. not interested enough to look any further.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34375072)

Rule 34 will know what to do with the stiffness element.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

lalena (1221394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376324)

Why UV

Probably because they can alter the LCD screen from R + G + B to a R + G + B + UV - just a 4th wavelength for the monitor to handle - kind of like Sharp's RGBY TVs. Then the visible + UV light emitted by the backlight through the LCD panel is what changes the surface of the monitor. You don't need to run wires to every pixel in the monitor - wires that would be on top of the touchscreen and on top of the LCD panel.

Hiding the wires to control the shape isn't an unsolvable problem. Touchscreen monitors have the same issue. There will be other methods of changing the shape of a display, but this is the method Microsoft came up with - which is why Microsoft got a patent on an obvious feature. The patent is for the method of achieving this feature, not just making a shape shifting display. Tying the shape of the display to the existing video display technologies simplifies some things and has its advantages and is worth a patent.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374688)

The first application I see is *finally* a decent braille screen for the blind. They can even dispense with the LCD screen altogether, to make the device affordable.

And since we all know that porn drives things, I can imagine what the first use will be [wordpress.com] .

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34374872)

The first application I see is *finally* a decent braille screen for the blind.

I hate to be a killjoy, but that'll almost certainly be a later application. The first will likely be improved tactile feedback for existing touchscreen devices for the sighted. Why? That's where the money is.

According to Wikipedia, there were 1.3 million legally blind Americans in 1994-1995. In contrast, Apple sold 3 million iPads in their first 80 days, with most of time occurring before the international launch.

This technology will be a boon to the visually impaired, but it's the general market appeal that's going to continue to justify the R&D costs and get it out to consumers.

Indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34374900)

That way the blind can text while driving just like the rest of us!

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375226)

The problem with Braille screens (which have been around a while now btw.), is that visual users have trouble reading through smudgy fingerprints.

I remember reading about the issue of braille screens being problematic for people with who prefer to use optical screens about three or four years ago. Eventually, they discarded the idea of doubling Optical with Braille and kept it simple. Just Braille.

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34375754)

Only about 10% of blind children are learning braille in the US anymore though (down from 50% in the 60's). There's little opportunity to use it, and only 27 states require they even have the *chance* to learn it (though many still don't) since they are now integrated into normal schools - it is far simpler there to try to cope with other technologies and they seldom have a qualified braille instructor.

It might help the blind in many ways; it would certainly be a better way to navigate a web page layout. However, braille is probably not it.
I wonder if it could also be touch sensitive? So one could have the computer read aloud at a more controllable pace and navigate around the page better?

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376710)

I always wondered when it came to braille readers: Why not something like a power glove? Instead of having a display constantly raising and lowering dots it would probably be much more efficient to have a glove style device where OCR turns the words into the appropriate "feel" in the gloves fingers and who knows, you might even be able to make an easy and cheap portable version where the user simply points their first finger at like say a menu and a webcam in the knuckle sends it to an ARM CPU in the wrist that does the conversion.

As for TFA love 'em or hate 'em MSFT does spend a whole pile o' cash on R&D and this looks like a pretty non obvious patent to me. Although I'm still waiting on the big storage breakthrough myself. What we need is something as cheap as DVD per GB and with the same roughly long term storage ability but with 200GB+ sizes. Where is my Holo-discs dammit! Give me that and 200GB SLC SSDs as cheap as current HDDs of the same size and Hairyfeet would become Happyfeet REAL quick. We've had breakthroughs in CPUs, GPUs, RAM, but long term storage simply hasn't kept up, and with huge MP cams and easy home video we need it now more than ever!

Re:decent touch screen keyboard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34374296)

Right, or a display that provides selective affordances for visually-impaired users.

Alternate use (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374242)

Sit on the display in a night club: the ambient black light projectors will turn it into a vibrating cushion.

Re:Alternate use (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374364)

Too bad that the sun doesn't shine its ultraviolet light into certain (... the most interesting...) places...

Re:Alternate use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34375782)

i doubt the "shaped-memory" layer of whatever materials it is made of, would have enough strenght to vibrate or even move at all agaisn't the weight of a person just by reacting to ultra-violet light.

Vision Impaired (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34374278)

I could this could really have great implications for the vision impaired as a dynamic braille device in some fashion.

Let's hope (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374282)

Let's hope this actually becomes a viable product.

The obvious market I see is a display that is actually usable for the blind. A picture's worth a thousand words, and probably more than a thousand broken and disorganized automatically-read words.

Re:Let's hope (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374690)

A picture's worth a thousand words

Can you say that in pictures?

Form of... (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374288)

No, seriously though, I've got one already. [youtube.com]

Needs new tag (1)

Lookin4Trouble (1112649) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374332)

Proposing new tag: Imaginepornonthisthing

Bright future for this kind of technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34374362)

Both Apple [macrumors.com] and Nokia [gizmodo.com] are investigating similar technologies for use for their touch screens, so chances are pretty good that at least one of these neat ideas will reach the market. That is, unless they get bogged down in a patent war over this too [gizmodo.com] . (Microsoft's patent predates Apple's by nearly half a year it seems.)

A Patent, you say? (4, Funny)

LaminatorX (410794) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374580)

So wait, a major tech company filed a patent application for a new display technology that's genuinely novel and innovative?

They still do that?

Re:A Patent, you say? (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374956)

I am surprised too!
and that's fantastic.

What I hate most with the pure touch screen phone is that it's lack of tactile feedback, say the bumps on the "5" key. Imagine if the button, virtual keyboard all could have texture, it would be much easier to use, touch typing on iPad would be possible.

I Thought This Up (3, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374842)

I've been posting on Slashdot for years [google.com] , and elsewhere before that, about layering a memory plastic grid on a touchscreen to raise bumps defining a dynamic textures and bounded areas for touch feedback.

Re:I Thought This Up (2, Interesting)

Bagels (676159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374886)

Today's XKCD strip [xkcd.com] seems appropriate here. Granted, there's no guarantee that Microsoft actually plans on implementing this ever...

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374958)

I have proof of my design predating this MS design that I linked to.

I didn't say I wanted a cut, but I am claiming I thought of it before MS published. However, if MS doesn't actually build one, MS deserves as much credit as I do, or less since I thought of it first (AFAICT). MS certainly doesn't deserve a patent any more than I do if it doesn't actually build one. Then they deserve a patent only on the specific implementation.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

AC-x (735297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375666)

MS certainly doesn't deserve a patent any more than I do

Actually if you read the patent [uspto.gov] Microsoft has come up with the "specific implementation" for a (hopefully) working system, where all you have said is "I want an electrically activated memory plastic display".

This is what patents are supposed to be, complete theoretically working designs. You can't (or at least you're not supposed to be able to) just patent the idea of a "shape shifting display" you have to come up with how to make one, and anyone coming up with a different method of creating one gets their own patent. (This is also the problem with software patents, you can get a patent on some vague idea that covers about 100 different potential implementations).

The idea behind patents is that the inventing company doesn't have to build anything, as the patent is public any interested manufacturer can come up with a use for the technology and licence it. If not for patents any novel idea a company comes up it that it doesn't end up using would just get filed away and lost.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376240)

I said a good deal more than just "an electrically activated memory plastic display", but not enough to patent anything. But neither is coming up with "how to make one" enough to (legitimately) patent; actually making one is necessary - or should be. Without an actual implementation, a design-only claim is closer to my brief description than to an invention that should be protected with an exclusive monopoly.

I read the patent. Microsoft has come up with a (relatively, to my design) specific design, that is used as "an example". There is no implementation referred to in the patent. The patent uses "one example" to claim the entire class of invention, even if other examples infringe the patent without implementing what the example describes. Again, it is only descriptions. There is no physical model, no actual implementation.

Patents that claim exclusive rights with a physical model are meaningful. Because the actual "idea behind patents" is to protect the inventor while they produce the invention for market, without a competitor copying the design to produce it themself without expending the time and effort needed to produce the design. Licensing a patent is a possible result of patents, but not "the idea behind it".

The publication is to offer other inventors a registry of inventions that are a waste of time to duplicate serendipitously, as well as a catalog of inventions that can be bought in the market. Without a working implementation, a patent does not document an invention, but rather an idea for an invention. Without a model to compare claimed infringers to, any patent is overly broad.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375904)

Claims have to be substantiated. Did you document it anywhere public? If so, then you have prior art.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376416)

I have proof of my design predating this MS design that I linked to.

As I said, I linked to it, in the GP comment [slashdot.org] .

But that's not enough "prior art" to prevent a legitimate patent (eg. one claiming only an actual working model), any more than this MS patent should be enough to do so. More or less talk about an invention are roughly the same, until there's an actual working invention. Then everything changes, and an actual invention is legitimately protectable.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376954)

Your point is asinine. This patent protects the specific implementation Microsoft describes. If it doesn't work, the patent affords them no protection. If it does, I doubt it's random chance that they happen to describe a working implementation (with details about how it will work) in their patent.

"Why, somebody oughta..." is something a stoned guy eating a bag of Cheetos mentions to his buddy. A patent application with implementation details is not the same thing.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377334)

You're a fool. This patent, like all Microsoft patents (and other patents owned by rich, powerful corporations) will prevent others from making something similar to what it claims, even if the difference is that the "infringing" invention actually works.

If they do have a working model, they're withholding it because they want the patent to protect a broader claim than could be supported by the ultimate specific: a working model.

"Your point is asinine" is what an asshole says who's afraid to just make an obvious ad hominem attack. You're an asshole.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377428)

This patent, like all Microsoft patents (and other patents owned by rich, powerful corporations) will prevent others from making something similar to what it claims

I'm not so sure about that. A friend who worked in a factory told me that his boss would often bring him some gizmo another company made and say "can we make one of these?" He said the people running the company didn't give a rat's ass about patents; "that's why we hire lawyers". He said often a small difference, like using brass instead of alumanum, was anough to get around a patent.

I guess it comes own to the US "justice" system, where the best lawyer wins regardless of merit.

Re:I Thought This Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377460)

Sorry, I didn't realize you were such a dickhole before I posted.

You're right, you totally invented this! And those "megacorp" "fat cats" are just using their "ultrarich" Republican ways to steal money from the poor workers of the world.

There, I pretty much covered everything you want to say in this thread or any other - now you can shut your whore mouth.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377170)

I'd like credit for inventing the MMORPG, the ISP, multi-function devices that change their interface based on which function is being used, and YouTube.

When I was 6 years old (well over 30 years ago) I said to a friend, while I was playing Adventure on an Apple ][ with a 120 Baud acoustic modem: "Wouldn't it be cool if other adventurers were in here too, so you could have lots of people who would solve puzzles with you?" I even actually tried to make a BBS door game that would let multiple users do exactly that. I may even have a print-out of that somewhere in my boxes of childhood stuff somewhere.

When I was about 10, and got to see PLATO in action, I said, "Wow, I bet people would pay money to be able to connect to this from home!" I even wrote a letter to the admins of the computer lab at a uni asking them if I could get a PLATO terminal at home if I got enough people to chip in to buy it.

When I was 12 I had a Walkman, an FM radio, and one of those pocket Pac Man games, and I wanted them all to be in the same package so I only had to carry one thing around. My mom said that was dumb because there would be too many buttons, and I said that maybe the thing could "transform" so whatever the one in use at the time was would be the one with the buttons showing. I tried to rig it up by using a chinese puzzle box type design, but lost interest since it would have been REALLY big and REALLY annoying to use.

Back in 1995, while working with a friend to transfer some home movies to VHS, we were talking about how it would be funny to share some of them online - imagine a site where people could put random crap their family filmed on to an archive or even one of those websites, and other people could watch it. Alas, we decided it could never happen due to bandwidth and storage issues.

My point with this is that reasonably bright people come up with ideas for things like this stuff *all* the time - and some of us actually write about it or even try to make a prototype happen - but there's a rather vast difference between coming up with an idea and developing an implementation of it. You want credit for inventing something, actually *invent* it and bring it into the world.

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34377602)

And maybe by the 2010 you could see the difference between "thinking it up" and "inventing it". You could see the difference between saying "I want this to do X for me" and "I want this to use Y technology to do X for me". The difference between the design in Microsoft's patent and an actual implementation.

Re:I Thought This Up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34375062)

au contraire, I believe today's GOATKCD strip [goatkcd.com] seems spot on. given today's business environment.

Re:I Thought This Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34377078)

Cool. But I'm sure you're not the only one. E.g. consider this Slashdot comment [slashdot.org] from 2008, where some of the replies discuss combining touch-interfaces with screens that can deform dynamically to remap keys. The discussion also references articles about touchscreens and deformable keyboards [computerworld.com] , as well as clickable touchscreens [redferret.net] .

I think the general idea of "a screen that can alter its texture" is pretty generic, and lots of people have had that idea. The further idea to use shape-memory and/or photo-responsive polymers as a means of doing that is more specific (and cool!) but still fairly broad.

I'm not trying to denigrate your idea. Lots of brilliant ideas were independently developed. All I'm saying is that the idea alone, while crucial, is actually the easy part. The implementation details are by far the more difficult part, and really the only part that might deserve patent protection and proceeds. (Whether or not this particular patent fits the bill, I'm not sure.)

Re:I Thought This Up (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378202)

Not to shit on your parade, but I'm pretty sure everyone who's used a console emulator on a touch-interface device (like the iphone) has probably thought of this idea. Being able to actually feel the controller buttons on the screen would be a helluva lot better than having to look every few seconds to make sure your thumbs are in the right place.

How can this be patentable? (1)

mattr (78516) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374966)

Interesting but patentable?
Google for

haptic shape memory

haptic display

and you will see it is not a sudden invention out of nowhere. The pixels used to be electromagnetically activated metal pillars whereas they are using shape memory alloy. Perhaps the part about how they are using the alloy mechanically is new?

NHK and Tokyo U. in 2008 develop touch panel/braille display [electronista.com]

Harvard research [harvard.edu]

It talks about shape memory alloy in pixel sized units.. So did Microsoft get this idea from the Russian and 4 Japanese below? [mit.edu]
Reference 12 is from a well known source in 2004:

[12] I. Poupyrev, T. Nashida, S. Maruyama, J. Rekimoto, and Y. Yamaji. Lumen: interactive visual and shape display for calm computing. In Proc of SIGGRAPH ’04, page 17. ACM.

Shape-changing interfaces encode information by modifying the shape of the device, using any of a number of different approaches. Pin-based displays use a matrix of elements that move up and down. Horev [7] describes how one might design a TactoPhone, in which the back of the phone is a morphing surface for displaying animated tactile icons. His video prototype shows how it might be used to provide location information. Lumen [12] is a 2D low-resolution pin- based display that controls the height and color of individual 'pixels'. Shape Memory Alloy provides noiseless, smooth and continuous actuation. Although notification through the haptic channel, SMA threads are fragile and are not very responsive.

Re:How can this be patentable? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375384)

Any different approach would be patentable. Perhaps they've solved the "fragile and not very responsive" problem. Perhaps they've designed a system that works at higher resolutions.

No patent is 100% original, nor should such a qualification be necessary. As Isaac Newton supposedly said, "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

Oh holy lord. (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#34374988)

The porn implications are endless!

RULE 34 (0, Offtopic)

Katchu (1036242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375772)

Ultimately Rule 34 will prove true.

rubber w/actuators under or in and projector? wow (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375842)

When I read the title of the post I figured they couldn't be talking about lighted pixels of even a flexible display since flexible displays are still just prototypes and they can only roll and bend, not stretch. Flexible to the point of pixel to pixel distances changing enough to be visible means the pixel connections must be stretching and that's probably 1+ decades away. I figured they must be talking about a flexible/rubber-like surface with actuators under it to give it a relief and then lighted by a projected display. Just reading the first paragraph of TFA says that it's about projected displays and not any kind of LCD or OLED type of display.

Where is the invention?

Unless they've come up with a material which is light sensitive and expands from the light and if so why is everyone here talking about LCD displays? If they do not have this light sensitive expanding material and are patenting the idea of this being a reality some day then once again it's another BS type of patent because it's obvious. IMO

LoB

PH-sensitive polymers using UV to provide ionizati (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376134)

looks like they are probably talking about some PH sensitive polymer where UV light is used to change the PH levels via ionization.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PH-sensitive_polymers

not really new but I can imagine anyone working in and round this field would have used or considered using a projected display to cause reaction patterns on the material. Using a projected keyboard having two projectors(1 visiable light, one UV light) projecting on a flat material such as made from the above mentioned polymers must be what they have "invented" and patented.

So now, anyone who wants to use these PH sensitive polymers combined with a computer display system is SOL without paying Microsoft. this sucks IMO

LoB

another wishful thinking patent (1)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375886)

People have been trying to create displays with tactile feedback for a while; Microsoft and other companies are simply patenting all the combinations of possible technologies for making that happen.

The USPTO should really require a working model...

Pr0n (1)

SoopahMan (706062) | more than 3 years ago | (#34375906)

This isn't labeled porn yet? They'd obviously jump on it before anyone else.

Technology like this has the most immediate useful impact on Windows Tablet devices that are just the touchscreen and essentially no other UI. You could make a raised keyboard with the screen, which would really be best of both worlds.

The next step is a revolution in UI design. An alpha layer representing the texture of every UI feature could be part of every image displayed, and you could have an infinite number of interfaces that are customized to a particular task, but you would get the ergonomic benefits of a normal keyboard. For example, you could handle multiple languages more effectively by adding entire new keys to the on-screen keyboard instead of doubling-up and making it difficult to type common characters as is done today in many languages. Games could present a set of "keys" that are just the movement and action keys, clearly labeled as such, instead of WASD.

And of course, porn would run rampant, as always.

Since it's just a patent, presumably this technology won't exist for ages. My bets have always been on Apple putting this in a future iPad before anyone else gets to it - not a big fan of Apple, but their ownership of the entire technology stack and the premium price they can levy for their devices puts them in the best position to introduce something like this with the fewest hurdles.

Amazing (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34376498)

Isn't it amazing the number of computer innovations that have been created for the porn industry?

good for touchscreen gamepads (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378142)

For those of you who are imagination impaired, one cool use of this would be to provide a "real" gamepad via a touchscreen interface. Think being able to play oldschool NES games on an iphone where you could actually feel the buttons instead of always having to look and ensure your thumbs are in the right place.

I could've sworn... (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34378420)

... that somebody already filed a patent remarkably similar to this. Maybe this is just a different means to the same end. Unfortunately I can't seem to find the link to the story for the other patent. Anybody else got that buried somewhere deep in the bookmarks?
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