Touchability Cues

When I wrote “Touchability,” it had already been a while since a buddy had shown me a haptic mouse he was working on. For example, you could feel an actual bump when the mouse enters and leaves an object (a real version of what developers sometimes call rollover). Force feedback was such an obviously good thing that I didn’t even mention then the cool stuff that’s now happening in this area.

As much as I think physical touchability is good, I want to be clear that I want to make Croquet applications be emotionally touchable, too. I want to capture what it is that makes things seem (be?) real. Even without physical force feedback, it should still be fun to fondle stuff because of active visual and aural responses and good 3D design.

To be sure, I’d love to add to the effect with more sensory stimulus. There are huge possibilities, and I hope folks will explore them. This stuff is cool. There’s someone working on stereo display for Croquet. Others working on large screens in public spaces. I don’t doubt that we’ll see Croquet on small or cheap devices. There’s plenty of room for innovation.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.

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