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Topic: OT: Dream Control Surface

  1. #1

    OT: Dream Control Surface

    I posted this in hardware, but those guys are just so close-mouthed [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Assuming more and more of our work is going to end up being rendered via a PC, what would your dream interface be?

    Right now we have mouse, trackball, keyboard, multiple screens, tablets, rudimentary voice control, boxes of assignable knobs, and more sophisticated sets of knobs like the HUI or Logic Control.

    As far as an intuitive interface which doesn\'t get in the way, none of these works for me.

    My dream (for composing/programming/sequencing - not engineering)is a simple large touch sensitive screen. Pull up your application and access functions by touching/dragging the switches/knobs and sliders which you see on the screen.

    This way you wouldn\'t have to assign hardware knobs, you wouldn\'t have to remember what switch#3 in the top left row of your control surface does, or even what it\'s called!

    If you see a function, you reach out and change it, just as you do on a hardware surface.

    Goodbye mouse, goodbye keyboard.

    The OS would link screen position to app function, just as it does for the mouse now, so there\'s no problem with loading up a new plugin, sliding it over to the bottom right of your monitor and beginning to play with it straight away.

    I just want to be clear that I don\'t think any engineer will EVER accept an interface that doesn\'t use long throw faders, but I\'m no engineer and my mixes tend to use sequenced automation rather than live moves, so I don\'t care about the \'feel\' of the knobs or switches.

    I know there are resolution and cost factors to overcome, but I can\'t think of any more inutitive interface for PCs in the future. Anyone got better alternatives?

  2. #2

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    How about the big graphic \"device\" in the movie \"Minority Report\"? Kind of like a big touch-screen on steroids. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]


  3. #3

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    I\'d get tired waving my arms around all day!

  4. #4

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    How about a special helmut with probes attached to your brain so that all you have to do is think about what you want, and it gets done.

  5. #5

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    Hey Chadwick... You caught me dreaming! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    Guess it is better to understand with a picture so here it is:

    Please do not rely on dimensions in this picture, was a quick job... [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]
    Here the list for the control interface:

    1) You already know - the masterkeyboard

    2) All the sliders, knobs, pitches, touch sensitive rubbers, sliders (vertical ones, mainly for vibrato IMO) or whatever you can have for unlimited control

    3) Some keys including (from upper left to lower right): Esc, Tab, Ctrl, Alt, Space and 4 screen-switch and 4 machine-switch buttons

    4) The heart of this unit: A touch sensitive 15\" TFT for main control (therefore the screenswitches in 3)

    5) More keys to come including: Numpad 7,8,9,4,5,6,1,2,3,0 and Back, Enter, Del, and the 4 arrow buttons

    6) Song control (as like in Cubase) backward, stop, play, pause, forward and the big button as seek function

    7) Some people would like this feature, some not: a mixing unit containing at least little 8 units on each side. Including: display that shows patch number/instrument name on the top, below stereo position for quick view/input, below two/three buttons for point adjusting (left, [center,] right). Then in the middle a volume slide/wheel with 128 positions, left digits for volume level (e.g. 127), stereo position (e.g. R02). Right channel/instrument selector with a turning knob and status digits (e.g. 168). Below I forgot to add a channel mute button. Perhaps some more little units for other things, e.g. extern hardware and so on.

    8) Perhaps you can imagine what to put here. Perhaps a good old typing keyboard, or a second TFT.

    9) Believe it or not, sometimes you will get rid of touch pads and go back to mouse or track ball... [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    Imagine all the buttons touch sensitive because first of lower noise and second not so hard to press. Like hundreds of very little touch pads from notebooks. The upper unit can be put with little motors on the masterkeyboard if you only need the editing options for faster access. The hole thing has to be some inches more to the ground then (motors). What leeds to another button case I forgot: 1 for the described, a power off, a speaker selector, and and and...

    To add to this setup: Surround AND stereo monitors in the room. A big 40\" plasma screen 2-3 meters away that can be splitted to 4 screens (screen selectors!) or used for one/two screens. Breath controller not to forget.

    Just dreaming... [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]


    PS: I have a very awesome idea (needs still some developing though) for paper and pencil writers to speed up their work - just let me know if there is interest!!!

  6. #6

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    Hansi, that looks very cool, but what I\'m hoping for is just a blank screen which has the intelligence to know where you put your finger and whether you drag it or tap/double tap.

    The computer knows where an application\'s useable controls are when you use a GUI - just as windows knows what your mouse cursor is hovering over when you click. The screen should do the same.

    This means that no matter where you load up a soft synth, sequencer etc., when you reach out and touch the slider you\'re looking at, the pc knows your finger is on that slider and respond appropriately.

    If you load up five soft synths and a seqeuncer at the same time and position them around your screen, you could have immediate control over any function which is visible - just reach out and touch it.

    This also means that no desgner has to make compromises about his software layout. We get to interact with the software in exactly the way it was designed to work.

    I know this sounds a bit naive, escpecially as touch screens are currently both functionally limited, low res, and at the same time expensive.
    But I\'m sure this will be the interface for future.

  7. #7

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    Hello Rick,

    The kind of technology you speak of is available now and has been for quite some time. The thing that has kept it from wide spread acceptance is primarily cost. Do an internet search on \"touchscreens\" and you\'ll get enough hits to keep you busy for weeks.

    The concept or idea of a touchscreen application is really just an extension of the mouse, which is the most accepted and intuitive interface for the personal computer ever.

    Gary Garritan used an LCD touchscreen with a pen-type stylus at the past Winter NAMM show to demo his fabulous string library. It\'s serial or USB peripheral interface that you can use along with your existing keyboard/mouse input devices.

    So if you go out tomorrow and order one of these, you can hook it up and be done with it. In effect this removes one order of magnitude in the man-machine interface. What I mean by that is before you have what everyone else has, you direct your cursor, clicks, and double-clicks with a mouse device that is on the desk and coordinate hand-eye motions with the visual feedback on the monitor screen. It\'s a conceptual leap we all take for granted, but it is an awkward skill we all had to master. With the addition of the touchscreen, you directly control the cursor, clicks, and double-clicks with your finger (or a stylus device for more precise areas).

    So it\'s not that big a deal after all. Makes me wish we had touchscreens all along.

    Another alternative input device method that is coming along quite nicely is speech recognition software. This truly is a boon to those who are visually impaired. The nice thing about these programs is the ability to create macros, much like you use keystrokes, except using key words or phrases to trigger these macros.

    Hope this is helpful food for thought,

  8. #8

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    Hi Chadwick!

    Yes, yes and yes again. As you can see from Kevin\'s post this technology you are demanding is already availible, also it is a bit limited in use. At Munich university they have such touch screens you and Kevin describe spreaded all over the place. These are for surfing in the internet (at a very HIGH price... [img]images/icons/frown.gif[/img] ). They just have this screen. They blend in a keyboard and you can type hitting the keys (dedicated fields) on the screen. This works fairly good. At a resolution of 1024x768. Well... These screens are something about 15\". I do not know the costs, but as many as there are, it would be at least affordable.

    Just food for thought for you:

    Your finger is no mouse, it is a woodstock in comparison to a nail. You would not very precise with control. E.g. you want the volume fader at 116. You hit it, drag as usual, drop at 116 - and it is 118! You\'d need something like a palmtop pencil (remember - all this is availible now!). With this you can resolute your input enough.

    My intention was with my dream to create something that is already designable! Even at a very high cost. In this case unaffordable = dream. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] And sorry if you don\'t agree with me, but I don\'t think one input screen as you describe would really speed up the work more than what we use today. Also remember those screens can not handle two inputs at one time (your left/right hand has nothing to do meanwhile, well -- 2 screens could solve this problem) Also: Imagine a 60\" screen in front of you to work on, to have the 1 sequencer and the 4 soft synths at your finger tip. Big distances is a very annoying thing with touch screen input. Too short distances also...

    Imagine following scenario: You want to play in a sequence for violins via keyboard. You hit the keys and... errr... have to look where the hell are those sliders on the screen. Sequence gone. Next try... You found the slider at the right time. Hell I hit the modulation wheel instead of the distortion knob! -- Please don\'t get me wrong, that\'s just my opinion!

    Therefore I wished to have rastered wheels, for example the volume with 128 positions. or a rastered turning knob, so you can reach position 231 exactly with no problems. And I would not like to work on the screen you are looking to. I\'d like to have a second one (by the way, I would take more than 40\" for for screens, something about 50\"-60\") in a further distance, see also Maarten\'s topic about screens, for relaxing work.

    Also I really wnat to have plasma screens all over the place, because these days I would prefer a large CRT with 100 Hz over a TFT from my experience IMO. (Mainly because resolution issues)

    Hope I did not make everythink more confusing...


  9. #9

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    That\'s cool Hansi,

    I know there are touch screens all around us, but most of them seem to be very low resolution and mainly designed as an alternative to button pushing. My guess is that this is because ut\'s hard to get high resolutions from the film they use over the monitor.

    I get the point about your finger being a log rather than a nail, but maybe there are ways around that. Of course, it depends on your screen resolution and size as well.

    Ontik on PlanetZ suggested the follwing lateral approach:

    \"Imagine this.... ( and do read the detail won\'t you.)

    You have a touch sensitive flat panel monitor measuring H70cm X W120cm sitting flat on the desk in front of you (Actually elevated about 20 cm at the top end).

    It acts like your current monitor but it can react to 2 mouse pointers (or say 4 so 2 users could work it at once). Instead of a mouse(s) you use two(or 4) devices that you hold with your fingertips (shaped like any slider handle on a real console) that work exactly like a mouse pointer when you slide/rotate them on the screen surface. 1:1 scale!!

    You would work it just like any console only you could double tap on the buttons on the Start Bar (PC) to switch instantly between programs. The program interface would be displayed beneath your work space. and you would literally move your slider controls on the screen directly over the display. 1:1 Scale!!!!!!! Its just a 2D generic console made easy.

    You would never need any interface drivers specific to your application. One driver to control the slightly modified mouse inputs.(Which could of course be used for any other regular computer function including DVD playback). Any standard video card with respectable resoultion would do the job too.

    Cheap?? Not likely but what does a Pro Tools console cost, Houston or logic control? AND can you use them with SFP, Logic, Cubase, Sonar, Samplitude, Reason, (Insert application name here) INSTANTLY at the same time??? Can they Be used as a hang on the wall widescreen DVD Screen?? Did I hear someone say TV Tuner card?

    No. If it cost $5K US you\'d still buy it over a widescreen TV wouldn\'t you?? And get a loan to own one.

    Imagine what it would do for design geeks??

    Imagine TWO of them running big res for your consoles? Do I have to go on??\"

    What do you think?
    I don\'t quite follow the \'slider handles\', but the idea of not having to integrate the pointer functions within the actual screen is brilliant - it\'d make the idea way cheaper to realise.

  10. #10

    Re: OT: Dream Control Surface

    Originally posted by Chadwick:
    .. what I\'m hoping for is just a blank screen which has the intelligence to know where you put your finger and whether you drag it or tap/double tap.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Touch screens have a few draw backs. One is that unless your physical setup is just right you have cannot rest your elbow or arm on the desktop - as you can with a mouse. This can get very tiring after a while (especially for musicians [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] ) Secondly, given the average fingertip areas, the minimum spacing for control icons is quite large compared with a mouse. With a mouse you can put two control icons the width of a letter apart and have no trouble selecting between them. You could never do this with your finger. You also have less control when dragging or pushing your finger on a vertically oriented screen - as compared to a mouse. Also, compare having a scrolling wheel on a mouse as opposed to reaching up and moving a slider on a touch screen. In general, finger control is more approximate than mouse control.

    On the other hand, if you can horizontally mount an I/O screen into a desktop and control it with a pencil-like input device - now that would be great. Imagine a 18\" x 24\" (45 cm x 60 cm) screen built into your desktop! While keyboard input is faster, you could incorporate Palm script or other PDA alpha numeric input schemes that would respond to the stylus.

    Touch screens are often specified in military trainer systems because they are more robust as compared to a mouse. Army trainees know they can break the mouse and get out of a session of training.

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