News Column

Patent Issued for Haptic Device for Carving and Molding Objects

June 25, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- From Alexandria, Virginia, VerticalNews journalists report that a patent by the inventor Adhikari, Suranjit (San Diego, CA), filed on May 20, 2011, was published online on June 10, 2014.

The patent's assignee for patent number 8749533 is Sony Corporation (Tokyo, JP).

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Touch screen devices are becoming more common, being used currently for example in cellular telephones, digital cameras, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and other handheld computing or gaming devices. Touch screen user interfaces typically combine a display unit capable of depicting visual output with an overlying touch sense unit capable of detecting user input via touch. Touch screens lack some of the functionality of more conventional input devices, so many also include a stylus for inputting data and/or navigating a user interface. Stylus devices for use with portable touch screens have become very familiar to a broad user base.

"Haptic devices employ tactile feedback technology that takes advantage of a user's sense of touch by conveying physical force sensations to the user. The resulting vibration or motion can be employed to enhance the user's perception of information being presented by a computer. Such haptic devices are used for example in video game controllers (e.g. the Sony PS3 DualShock.RTM.), and complex 3-D editing tools for computer-aided design systems. The use of haptic peripherals with portable touch screen computing devices has not become widespread to date, though.

"As a result, there is a need for a haptic hand-held stylus interface tool to improve the interaction between users and their portable touch screen computing devices."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "A system, method, and computer program product for haptic interaction with a touch screen display are disclosed and claimed herein. The embodiments generally assist a user by more convincingly simulating the manipulation of objects depicted on the display.

"Embodiments of a haptic stylus interface device may comprise a stylus capable of providing feedback forces and having a contact ball capable of rotating in place, a communications module enabling information transfer with a computer, and a contact ball gripping mechanism that responsively produces a variable contact ball friction force independent of the feedback forces. The device may further comprise at least one sensor that measures operational data including at least one of position, orientation, velocity, acceleration, and rotation. The sensor may include at least one of a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a contact pressure sensor.

"The device may further comprise a feedback actuator that selectively produces the feedback forces oriented with respect to a housing, either longitudinally or orthogonally, or some combination of the two. The feedback actuator may press a contact pad against the contact ball for transmission of feedback forces. The contact pad may be slick or frictional in nature. The device may be inverted for use as a trackball.

"The communications module, preferably a Bluetooth module, includes control circuitry that gathers the operational data for transmission, and receives control information enabling responsive actuator activation. Driver software executing on the computer manages the operational data and the control information for an application executing on the computer. The device may transfer information by wire or wirelessly. The contact ball may roll against the operating surface of a touch screen display.

"The contact ball gripping mechanism may comprise a set of prongs holding the contact ball in a grip of variable firmness, including completely stopping contact ball rotation. The various components of the device may be placed in a housing or handle that may be cylindrical or conical in shape, with the contact ball and contact ball gripping mechanism preferably at the larger end of the cone. The stylus may include conventional user input devices as well, including a button, a knob, a wheel, and a sliding switch for example.

"Alternate embodiments may include a computer interface for providing interaction between a computer and a user, comprising a computer and a haptic stylus that communicates electronically with the computer and provides independent feedback and friction surface contact forces to a user. The invention may also be embodied as a method for providing interaction between a computer and a user, comprising transferring information between a computer and a stylus having a contact ball capable of rotating in place, and selectively providing independent feedback and friction forces to a user with the stylus. Finally, the invention may be embodied as a computer program product comprising a machine-readable medium tangibly embodying non-transitory program instructions thereon that, when executed by a computer, cause the computer to transfer information between a computer and a stylus having a contact ball capable of rotating in place, and selectively provide independent feedback and friction forces to a user with the stylus.

"Further, embodiments may enable a gaming interface that helps a user interact with a game program executing on the computer, by simulating game objects or characters. In this case, the effort applied by the user is determined from stylus pressure or stylus motion against the friction force, for example. Excess stylus pressure may damage the touch screen display, so a warning may be given should this eventuality be detected. Rotary motion of the stylus may trigger a predetermined game event. Sudden changes in the friction force may indicate particular game events; likewise a steady increase in the friction force may indicate that a game character is fatigued or damaged.

"Embodiments of the invention may enable sculpting operations on virtual or real objects by selectively adding or removing object material. In this case, the application program executing on the computer is a sculpting or three-dimensional CAD application. The friction force may provide information to the user regarding the object's properties, e.g. different regions of the object may have their own friction characteristics. For example, embedded knots or hard objects may be modeled by a sudden increase in the friction force when they are encountered by a manipulation tool or sculpting implement. Similarly, softer or empty regions such as voids may be modeled by a sudden decrease in the sculpting implement friction force. Objects may have directional friction properties as well, used to model wood grain for example, or to help beginning sculptors recognize regions to be shaved away to produce a desired object. Overcoming various friction forces and/or exerting stylus contact pressure are ways for the user to specify an effort level when sculpting, which may control the amount of material being manipulated. Finally, the stylus system may take advantage of a proximity detecting tool that determines the distance from the contact ball to its contact surface, typically the operating surface of a touch screen display.

"As described more fully below, the apparatus and processes of the embodiments disclosed permit automatic haptic interaction with a touch screen display. Further aspects, objects, desirable features, and advantages of the apparatus and methods disclosed herein will be better understood and apparent to one skilled in the relevant art in view of the detailed description and drawings that follow, in which various embodiments are illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood, however, that the drawings are for the purpose of illustration only and are not intended as a definition of the limits of the claimed invention."

For additional information on this patent, see: Adhikari, Suranjit. Haptic Device for Carving and Molding Objects. U.S. Patent Number 8749533, filed May 20, 2011, and published online on June 10, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Sony Corporation.

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Source: Journal of Engineering

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