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Physical Touchscreen Knobs

Here’s another quick hack to add more physicality to touch screen displays.  Using a small to medium sized knob, you can modify it (or even use it by itself) to behave as a rotary input.

Similar to the soft stylus, the trick is finding a way to create a conductive path from your hand to the screen.  We started by using copper tape, conductive fabrics (see the soft stylus) and wires to simulate two touch points on opposite sides of the knob.  It takes some careful tuning to get the touch points spaced correctly and sized such that the screen reads them as a touch, but it does work with a little patience.

Alternatively, with a small knob, it’s natural to grab it such that your fingers actually touch the screen making it nothing more than a physical prop to provide some tactile feedback (as shown in the video).  It works great and doesn’t require much in terms of materials or time; just grab a small object and give it a try!

64 Comments

  1. Original stylus) I like it.

  2. This is great! I added it to my site. Not sure if you were thinking about it in accessibility terms, but this’ll also add a lot of control for people with hand-motor challenges. Look forward to following the development(s). Cheers—Sara

  3. […] turn and twist it again. That pretty much sums up this neat little invention. The people at DsLabs came up with the idea of a physical knob having the same feel of your finger when applied to the […]

  4. […] like a stylus, but you don’t want to get your iPhone screen all dirty either. Easy solution, build a knob that will simulate the act of touching your iPhone screen. This is an easy build, but it’ll […]

  5. […] like a stylus, but you don’t want to get your iPhone screen all dirty either. Easy solution, build a knob that will simulate the act of touching your iPhone screen. This is an easy build, but it’ll […]

  6. […] like a stylus, but you don’t want to get your iPhone screen all dirty either. Easy solution, build a knob that will simulate the act of touching your iPhone screen. This is an easy build, but it’ll […]

  7. […] like a stylus, but you don’t want to get your iPhone screen all dirty either. Easy solution, build a knob that will simulate the act of touching your iPhone screen. This is an easy build, but it’ll […]

  8. man that is fuckin awesome !!!

    i saw this protitype with something like this , this is really cool.

    you can make a full DIYS controller.

    we need now , some faders , and buttons.

    And also , some new “controllers” something that are not kobs , faders or buttons , we are in 2010 , faders , knobs and buttons are cool , but , we need to find THE NEXT THING

    and what would be cool is that the buttons could display letters

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