Touchscreen

How to Calibrate the Joy-Con Controllers On Your Nintendo Switch

For such a tiny package, the Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Con controllers sure pack a lot of complex sensors and input mechanisms. There’s an accelorometer, gyroscope, infrared camera, 20+ buttons, and two control sticks, not to mention the touch screen on the Switch itself. Eventually, you might need to make sure all those inputs are working correctly. Here’s how to calibrate your control sticks, motion controls, and even test your buttons and touch screen.

To calibrate your controllers, start by selecting Settings from the main menu.

Scroll down to Controllers and Sensors.

On this menu, you’ll see a few options. We’ll start with Calibrate Control Sticks. Select this option if your games aren’t accurately interpreting your control stick movements.

Click the control stick you want to calibrate.

This screen will show a circle with cross hairs through it. When you’re not touching the control stick, you should see a green plus sign. When you move the control stick, you should see a green dot. The circle will turn green when you reach the edge of the controller radius. If any of your controller movements don’t work correctly, press X on the controller to calibrate it.

You’ll see a brief window reminding you only to calibrate if there’s a problem. If you recalibrate your control stick just because you had a bad game, you could end up making it worse. If you’re sure your input is being detected incorrectly (and you don’t just need more practice), choose Calibrate.

Follow the prompts on the screen to move your control stick in each of the four directions indicated. Push the stick all the way to the direction indicated, then release.

Next, rotate your control stick in…

How to Enable and Use the Virtual Touchpad on Windows 10

Windows 10’s Creators Update added a new virtual touchpad that works like the touch keyboard. You can use this touchpad to control the mouse cursor on a device with a touch screen.

To enable the virtual touchpad, either long-press or right-click the taskbar and select “Show touchpad button”. This option isn’t available on devices without a touch screen.

You’ll see a new touchpad icon on your taskbar, near the touch keyboard button. Tap or click it to open or close the virtual touchpad.

To use the virtual touchpad, just place your finger on the touchpad on your touch screen and move it around like you would on a normal touchpad. The mouse cursor will move around the screen as…

How to Make Chrome More Touch-Friendly on the Microsoft Surface

To the surprise of many, Windows has remained dominant as personal computers shift more and more to tablets and touch screen interfaces. And to the consternation of Microsoft, Google’s Chrome browser remains the dominant software on desktops (including laptops and Windows-powered tablets), despite some touch screen tools that are a bit lacking versus Chrome on Android phones and tablets.

If you’d like your desktop Chrome browser to behave a little better on the Surface or similar devices, here are a few tips.

Step One: Activate Tablet Mode

This might seem obvious, but there are a lot of users who leave Windows 10’s “desktop mode” enabled all the time. And why not? Windows’ user interface has evolved to a point where you can control a tablet with a Surface Pen just as well as a mouse.

Actually, there’s a really good reason why: some third-party applications like Chrome work subtly differently when Windows operates in Tablet Mode. Specifically, it will automatically detect when you select any text field (like the URL bar or a text entry box in a forum) and bring up the active keyboard, just like Microsoft’s Edge does. It should also collapse the keyboard when you tap somewhere outside the text box. That’s a trick that doesn’t work in Desktop Mode, necessitating workarounds like a manual keyboard button on the taskbar.

To enter Tablet Mode, open the Action Center by swiping in from the right…

Virtual reality tech may make ‘going shopping’ in real life a thing of the past

Virtual reality tech may make ‘going shopping’ in real life a thing of the past

High street shops are well-established online these days and provide new opportunities for interaction between shop and shopper. Consumers have become accustomed to shopping using a range of devices and the immense popularity of smartphones and mobile devices has led to the rise of mobile or m-retailing, with new communication and distribution channels created with these in mind. Perhaps this mix of the real and online worlds are helpful precursors for what may be the “next big thing”: virtual reality shopping.

Virtual reality (VR) experiences are typically provided through wearable headgear or goggles that block out the real world and immerse the user in a virtual one. This is distinguished from augmented reality (AR), where layers of digital content can be overlayed on the real world, providing access to both. For example, the digital information displayed on the visor of Google Glass.

Apps can provide ‘live’ augmented reality to try on superimposed accessories and clothes. Eawentling, CC BY-NC-SA

While AR can work with mobile devices and is already included in some apps, for VR to succeed the headgear needs to be comfortable, stylish and powered by sufficiently capable software so that the immersive visual effects are credible – and useful. It’s possible to add deeper engagement with the virtual world by incorporating other senses, for example tactile hand controls for handling and manipulating objects.

In-store tech

Magic mirrors, where how you’d like to look is projected onto your actual appearance. Intel[index company=intel], CC BY-SA

However, the use of technology by retailers in-store has been patchy. The availability of in-store Wi-Fi has increased, and some stores offer touchscreens and tablets for customers to browse and search for items and look up information. More common are video screens displaying fashion collections, often connected to apps offering inspirational looks. However more cutting edge tech, such as magic mirrors that overlay the image of…

Qbics Paint for Nintendo Switch will let you sculpt with the touchscreen

Image Credit: Abylight Studios

Abylight Studios wants to turn the Nintendo Switch into a sculpting studio with Qbics Paint, a 3D modeling and sculpting game that’s slated for release later this year.

Abylight has experience developing casual games with an educational spin, such as Musicverse: Electronic Keyboard, which turns the Nintendo 3DS handheld into a virtual keyboard along with video tutorials for beginners. Its Music On series for the Nintendo DSi involves more gameplay, incorporating Guitar Hero-style scrolling notes for players to match.

For Qbics…

Electrick: A Spray-On Touchscreen Interface

It’s hard to watch this video and not have your head explode with all of the possibilities for what you can do with a conductive spray-on material that can turn just about anything into a touchscreen interface. The technology is being developed at The Future Interfaces Group (FIG), an interdisciplinary research lab at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University.

Here, Yang Zhang, one of the 2nd year Ph.D. students working on the project, explains its basics:

Electrick is a low-cost and versatile sensing technique that enables touch input on a wide variety of objects and surfaces, whether small or large, flat or irregular. This is achieved by using electric field tomography in concert with an electrically conductive material,…

AI Weekly: Microsoft chases Amazon, Toyota taps Nvidia, humans brace for dystopia

Here’s this week’s newsletter:

This week, Amazon and Microsoft launched new attacks in the intelligent assistant wars.

On Tuesday, Amazon added a touchscreen to its Echo device and introduced calls and messaging. (This Sunday, don’t forget to say, “Alexa, call Mom.”)

And yesterday at the Build conference, Microsoft upped its ante by releasing a Cortana Skills Kit for developers and launching 26 new voice apps. Despite these salvos, as our Khari Johnson writes, Google Assistant has more than 230 actions from third-party developers. Amazon, which opened its Alexa Skills Kit to developers back in 2015, passed 10,000 skills three months ago.

Microsoft has some catching up to do.

Meanwhile, those who fear an AI-powered future may see these developments as more evidence that tech companies are like children playing catch with knives. Stephen Wolfram of Wolfram Research and Irwin Gotlieb of GroupM confronted the utopian and dystopian views of this issue at Collision 2017. Even as he welcomes technological advancements, Gotlieb warned, “There’s a little voice in the back of my head that’s saying the dystopian outcome is perhaps more likely.” (Watch the video below.)

For AI coverage, send news tips to Khari Johnson and guest post submissions to John Brandon. Please be sure to visit our AI Channel.

Thanks for reading,
Blaise Zerega
Editor in Chief

P.S. Please enjoy this video from Collision, “Is there a future for humans?”

From the AI Channel

Lurking beneath the fear of artificial intelligence and automation threatening people’s jobs lies a deeper, far more profound threat. Do artificial intelligence and automation imperil humanity itself? Those predicting a dystopian future include Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and many others. For some of them, it’s only a matter of time before the prophecy of Yuval Noah Harari’s […]

Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Toyota will use Nvidia’s Drive PX supercomputers for autonomous vehicles. Those cars will debut in the market in the next few years, Huang said. The Drive PX uses a…

The Best All-In-One Windows PCs: Seriously, They’re Actually Good Now

All-in-one PCs are the domain of the novice, the hotel business nook, or the interior decorator who can’t stomach seeing a “real” PC in a pristine living room. With the exception of the iMac, they were seen as boring, underpowered boxes with laptop components stuffed behind a cheap screen. But that’s changing.

It’s true that all-in-one machines are mostly cheap and simple, but the form factor has been undergoing a quiet revolution for the last couple of years. While Apple has been comfortable to trim dimensions and call it a day, manufacturers like Microsoft, Lenovo, HP, and others are filling the space with new and exciting designs. You should really check some of these models out before making your next desktop purchase.

Microsoft Surface Studio

The first desktop machine from Microsoft’s self-branded hardware initiative, the Surface Studio is surely the poster child for this new generation of all-in-one machines. Combining a 28-inch touch screen, a fold-down artist’s easel hinge, and the much-praised Surface Pen from the tablet line, the Studio makes a compelling argument for Windows as an artist’s platform. Prices start high and go higher, but with a GTX 965 graphics card and an optional 980 upgrade, the all-in-one can also double as a competent gaming machine (albeit a not-very-upgradeable one).

The $3000 starting price (with a rather paltry 8GB of RAM, no less) and slightly older Intel processors are two bummers in an otherwise amazing hardware package. Ditto for the unique Surface Dial: this rotating wireless tool can be placed directly on the screen for digital manipulation, but it’s a separate $100 purchase and currently limited to only a few applications. Even so, for those who want the absolute cutting edge in desktop design, the Surface Studio might be worth its steep asking price.

HP Envy

The Envy series has long been HP’s showcase for its more bombastic designs, and the latest all-in-one machines to wear the badge are no exception. These desktops combine huge, small-bezel displays with a horizontal component body that integrates a quad-speaker Bang & Olufsen soundbar. At a glance, the design looks like a high-end home theater setup that’s been shrunk down to desktop size, and that’s basically what it is, with a mid-range Windows machine crammed into the package.

The latest Envy designs are also surprisingly affordable, considering their displays. The base configuration for the massive 34-inch model starts at around $1800, though those who want more RAM, a bigger SSD+HDD combo, and a more capable graphics card can spend a bit more. The Envy design also comes in 24-inch and 27-inch versions, some of which offer touch screens, which isn’t an option on the largest version.

Digital Storm Aura, CyberPower PC Arcus, and Origin Omni

Even among these next-gen designs, gamers looking for truly high-end graphics can find their options a bit limited, thanks to the tight packages and non-upgradable components. Boutique PC makers are getting around that by cramming a full desktop into a 34-inch ultrawide monitor, in three separate products that seem to come from the same OEM supplier: the Digital Storm Aura, the CyberPower PC Arcus, and the Origin Omni. Slip off the back cover and you’ll be able to swap out every component, including a massive full-size PCIe desktop graphics card, RAM DIMM slots, SSD and HDD storage bays, and yes, even the desktop-class Intel processor and Mini-ITX motherboard.

Touchscreen-Controlled Chair Lets Disabled Toddlers Get Around

A toddler’s sudden mobility can be frustrating for parents, but it’s an important step in a child’s mental development. Having the means to explore teaches problem-solving skills and helps little ones understand the world around them. Now, Engadget reports that two grad students have invented a device that brings this experience to kids with disabilities.

NYU Tandon School of Engineering students Tanaya Bhave and Gang Haiming came up with the Tot Bot after learning that toddlers with physical handicaps often develop lower IQs due to lack of stimulation [PDF]. One way to combat this is to give kids a way to move around.

Most motorized wheelchairs for adults are controlled with joysticks. For their…