Input Devices

Mechanical 'Clicky' Keyboards Still Have Followers (Video) 146

Posted by Roblimo
from the clack-clack-clack-the-keyboard-types-on-down-the-track dept.
For a good number of years, the sound of the old IBM or other mechanical keyboard clacking away was the sound of programmers (or writers) at work on their computers. Then, according to Edgar Matias, president and cofounder of the Matias Corporation, computer companies started using membrane switches and other cheaper ways to make keyboards, which made a lot of people mutter curse words under their breath as they beat their fingers against keys that had to go all the way to the bottom of their travel to work, unlike the good old mechanical keyboards we once knew and loved.

Enter Edgar Matias, who started out making the half keyboard, which is like a chorded keyboard except that you can use your QWERTY typing skills with little modification -- assuming you or your boss has $595 (!) to lay out on a keyboard. But after that Edgar started making QWERTY and Dvorak keyboards for semi-competitive prices. FYI: No Slashdot person got a free keyboard (or extra money) for making this video, but I have a Matias keyboard, and in my opinion it's far better than the cheapie it replaced. A lot of other people seem to want "real" keyboards, too, which they buy from Matias or from other companies such as Unicomp, which makes keyboards just like the classic, heavily-loved IBM Model M. Again, I've owned a Unicomp keyboard (that I bought; it was not a giveaway) and it was excellent. Both companies put out quality products that are far easier on your hands and wrists than the $10 or $20 keyboards sold by big box electronics retailers.
Input Devices

The Challenge of Getting a Usable QWERTY Keyboard Onto a Dime-sized Screen 144

Posted by timothy
from the you-will-fail-at-that-task dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Spain and Germany are building on Carnegie Mellon's work to attempt to create workable text-input interfaces for wearables, smartwatches and a new breed of IoT devices too small to accomodate even the truncated soft keyboards familiar to phone users. In certain cases, the screen area in which the keyboard must be made usable is no bigger than a dime. Of all the commercial input systems I've used, Graffiti seems like it might be the most suited to such tiny surfaces.
Communications

How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text 164

Posted by timothy
from the message-could-not-be-lawfullly-transcribed dept.
Presto Vivace writes: Dan Froomkin reports at The Intercept: "Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community's 'holy grail,' the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and 'extract' the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest." I am torn between admiration of the technical brilliance of building software like this and horror as to how it is being used. It can't just be my brother and me who like to salt all phone conversations with interesting keywords.
Windows

Microsoft Announces Windows Holographic Platform 99

Posted by timothy
from the so-it's-an-illusion dept.
An anonymous reader writes: At its Build 2015 developer conference [Wednesday], Microsoft announced the Windows Holographic Platform. In short, the company will let developers turn Windows 10 apps into holograms for HoloLens. On stage, Microsoft showed a Windows video app that you can simply control with your voice: Just say "follow me" and the video app moves along as you walk around a room. "Every single universal Windows app has these capabilities," said Alex Kipman, technical fellow for the operating system group at Microsoft. Apps can look like little windows, or they can be more than that. The demo included a photos app, a browser, Skype, a holographic Start Menu, and even a dog on the floor.
Input Devices

Linux 4.1 Bringing Many Changes, But No KDBUS 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the latest-and-greatest dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The first release candidate of Linux 4.1 is now available. Linus noted, "The merge window is pretty normal in terms of what got merged too. Just eyeballing the size, it looks like this is going to fit right in — while 4.0 was a bit smaller than usual, 4.1 seems to be smack dab in the middle of the normal range for the last couple of years." There are numerous new features in Linux 4.1, like Xbox One controller force feedback support, better Wacom tablet support, Intel Atom SoC performance improvements, Radeon DisplayPort MST support, EXT4 file-system encryption, ChromeOS Lightbar support, and ACPI for 64-bit ARM, among other additions. However, KDBUS wasn't accepted for Linux 4.1.
Displays

Oculus Rift: 2015 Launch Unlikely, But Not Impossible 74

Posted by Soulskill
from the is-the-future-here-yet dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this week during Facebook's 2015 Q1 earnings call, the company seemed to suggest that a 2015 Oculus Rift release date was unlikely. At least, that's what a report about the call from Gamasutra indicated, saying, "It doesn't sound like Oculus will ship the consumer version of its Oculus Rift VR headset this year, or at least not in very large quantities." However, an equity analyst has chimed in to say that the language used during the call shouldn't be interpreted colloquially, concluding that "...there is no information here that rules out Oculus shipping in 2015."
Android

Google Adds Handwriting Input To Android 124

Posted by timothy
from the dreaming-of-sheep-is-next dept.
BarbaraHudson writes: The Reg is reporting on the release of Google Handwriting Input for Android smartphones and tablets: "The Chocolate Factory's research arm says handwriting recognition is needed because touchscreen keyboards remain modestly effective and while 'Voice input is an option, but there are situations where it is not feasible, such as in a noisy environment or during a meeting." The Google Research Blog notes that it allows recognition both on-device and in the cloud (by tapping on the cloud icon) in any Android app.

It works as advertised on my smartphone, so now I can type, speak, or scribble my searches, texts, etc.
Displays

Recon Instruments' Sports-Oriented Smart Glasses Now Shipping 25

Posted by timothy
from the makes-google-glass-look-like-contact-lenses dept.
First time accepted submitter krouic writes Earlier this week Recon Instruments started shipping their long-awaited Recon Jet heads up display for sports, to real-life actual consumers.
Jet's core features are designed for the cyclist and runner, and allow automatic upload of stats to activity tracking services. They feature an on-board GPS generating real-time performance metrics, an on-board high definition camera for short videos and photos, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ANT+ for connectivity to 3rd party sensors for heart rate, cadence and power data and smartphone connectivity for caller ID, text messages and music player access and control. Initial review by DCRainmaker.
Input Devices

MIT Researchers Develop Wireless Trackpad For Your Thumbnail 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the adding-purpose-to-twiddling-your-thumbs dept.
itwbennett writes: Called NailO, the prototype trackpad is similar to the stick-on nails sometimes used as a fashion accessory. It attaches to the user's thumb and can be controlled by running a finger over its surface. The processor, battery, sensing chip and Bluetooth radio are included on a circuit board that sits under the capacitive trackpad. The two are connected via a small ribbon cable, which means the trackpad is not quite as thin as a stick-on nail, but reducing the size is one of the aims of the researchers.
Power

Researchers Design a Self-Powered Digital Camera 85

Posted by Soulskill
from the thankfully-not-a-selfie-powered-camera dept.
Jason Koebler writes: Researchers at Columbia University have designed a fully electric digital camera that powers itself using ambient light. Put in a well-lit room, it would work indefinitely. The camera's image sensor does double duty. It measures the light needed to make the photograph, and it also takes excess light and uses it to power a capacitor (it has no battery) that runs the camera (PDF). The research team says the technology can be used to create self-powered cameras that can live on the internet of things.
Input Devices

Finding an Optimal Keyboard Layout For Swype 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the designed-for-2015 dept.
New submitter Analog24 writes: The QWERTY keyboard was not designed with modern touchscreen usage in mind, especially when it comes to swype texting. A recent study attempted to optimize the standard keyboard layout to minimize the number of swype errors. The result was a new layout that reduces the rate of swipe interpretation mistakes by 50.1% compared to the QWERTY keyboard.
Input Devices

Kinect For Windows Is Dead; Long Live Kinect For Windows Via USB 45

Posted by timothy
from the sir-this-teapot-may-not-be-able-to-weather-the-tempest dept.
puddingebola writes Microsoft has announced it will no longer manufacture Kinect for Windows. Only the Xbox One version will be available for purchase. Microsoft said it could not meet demand for the device, a strange claim for a company to make. The console version, though, will still work with Windows by way of a USB adapter, and as pointed out by this similar story at Gamespot, for about the same total price.
Input Devices

Control Anything With Gestures: Myo Bluetooth Protocol Released 15

Posted by timothy
from the not-for-use-while-driving dept.
First time accepted submitter Legendary Teeth writes The makers of the Myo Gesture Control Armband (Thalmic Labs) have just released the specs for the Bluetooth protocol it uses. While there are already official SDKs for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, this means that now anyone can roll their own support for other platforms like Linux or Arduino without needing to use one of the official platforms as a bridge. Anything you can write code for that that can act as a Bluetooth GATT client would now be possible, really. If you aren't familiar with the Myo armband, it's a Bluetooth Low Energy device with 8 EMG pods and an IMU that you wear on your arm. It can read your muscle activity to detect gestures you make with you hands, which you can then use to do things like fly drones, play games, or control music.
Input Devices

What Makes the Perfect Gaming Mouse? 199

Posted by timothy
from the give-it-a-lot-of-cocaine dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new article looks at the advanced technology that goes into many gaming mice favoured by professional gamers, from dedicated processors to custom weights for the sake of ergonomics, discussing the developments with designers at three top peripheral companies: Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries. Surprisingly, some factors that were once thought to have reached the limit of their usefulness, such as DPI sensitivity, are becoming more important again as screens get bigger and we make the move to 4K resolution. ... "With the rise of higher resolution screens, especially looking into 4K multi monitor systems and beyond, DPI might become an important factor in the future again, so we are not ruling out changes in the maximum tracking rate," says Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan.
Input Devices

Ask Slashdot: Good Keyboard? 452

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-fit-through-doors dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After five years of service, my keyboard is dying, and I'm starting to look for a new one. Since it's for my primary machine, and I spend a lot of hours there for both work and leisure, I'd like to invest in a high-quality replacement. What do you recommend? I've been using a Logitech G15, and it worked well enough — but not well enough for me to buy another. (I've also heard Logitech's build quality has been on the decline in recent years — has that been your experience, those of you who own their recent hardware?) My use cases include coding and gaming, so durability is a big plus.

I'd prefer something a bit less bulky than the G15, which has a raised area at the top for media controls and a tiny screen. I don't mind a thicker bottom bezel so much. I'm not a huge fan of ergonomic/split keyboards, but if you know a really excellent one, I wouldn't rule it out. Same with mechanical keyboards — love the action, but the noise is an issue. I don't need any particular bells and whistles, but don't mind them. As for a budget... as I said, it's for a heavy-use machine, so I don't mind investing in great hardware. (That said, if I'm spending $150+, it better automatically make sure all my semicolons are in the right place.) So, what keyboard has served you well?
Input Devices

Austin Declared a Drone-Free Zone During SXSW 46

Posted by timothy
from the freak-out-at-the-freak-fest dept.
itwbennett writes Organizers of SXSW said this week that flying of drones is banned for safety reasons. 'The airwaves and/or frequency spectrums generally used in the remote control of drones are too congested during the popular event to ensure operation safe from interference,' they said in a statement. The Austin Police Department will be watching for drones in crowded or public areas and anyone flying one could have it seized, the organizers warned.
Music

A Versatile and Rugged MIDI Mini-Keyboard (Video) 56

Posted by Roblimo
from the Willy-and-the-poor-boys-playing-that-MIDI-can't-be-beat dept.
The K-Board won a "Best in Show" award at CES 2015. Plus, as Timothy said, "I always like pour and stomp demos." And it's totally cross-platform. If your computer, tablet or smartphone has a USB port and (almost) any kind of music software, it works. In theory, you could hook a K-Board to your Android or iOS device and use it to accompany yourself while you sing for spare change on a downtown corner. Or noodle around to get a handle on a theme you'll use in your next major symphony. Or...?
AI

Breakthrough In Face Recognition Software 142

Posted by Soulskill
from the anonymity-takes-another-hit dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Face recognition software underwent a revolution in 2001 with the creation of the Viola-Jones algorithm. Now, the field looks set to dramatically improve once again: computer scientists from Stanford and Yahoo Labs have published a new, simple approach that can find faces turned at an angle and those that are partially blocked by something else. The researchers "capitalize on the advances made in recent years on a type of machine learning known as a deep convolutional neural network. The idea is to train a many-layered neural network using a vast database of annotated examples, in this case pictures of faces from many angles. To that end, Farfade and co created a database of 200,000 images that included faces at various angles and orientations and a further 20 million images without faces. They then trained their neural net in batches of 128 images over 50,000 iterations. ... What's more, their algorithm is significantly better at spotting faces when upside down, something other approaches haven't perfected."
Input Devices

Mountain Biking In Virtual Reality With the Oculus Rift and an Actuating Bike 71

Posted by timothy
from the it's-all-in-your-head dept.
An anonymous reader writes Thanks to the Oculus Rift DK2 VR headset and Activetainment B\01 VR bike, which pitches forward and back according to in-game terrain, has shifting, pedals, breaks, digital resistance control, and allows tilting into turns, users of the system feel like they're careening through a mountain biker's paradise. After working up a sweat in the simulator, the author of this article ruminates on whether or not his experience could be considered "real"; "Much of the feedback of actual mountain biking was present during my ride. Sure, the feedback could be more accurate, and there's still missing sensory information, like the wind through my hair and a certain set of forces on my body, but at what point is a virtual experience real enough to be well, real?"
Input Devices

Building the Developer's Dream Keyboard 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the where's-the-button-that-finds-the-missing-semi-colon dept.
New submitter mondalaci writes: This article is about building the Ultimate Hacking Keyboard step by step, starting with an Arduino. Lots of pictures and nerd talk included. It's a mechanical keyboard that can split down the middle and re-merge, and it has four layers of keymappings to keep the design compact. It will support custom keymaps as well. They're planning to release the firmware and design files under the GPLv3, and they're working on repair instructions, too.