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Touch Screens With Feeling

Engineers add texture to touch-screen devices

2 min read
Touch screens with feeling
Image: Michel Tcherevkoff/Getty Images

One of the most sought-after new features on mobile devices is the touch screen. But that name is a misnomer, according to a group of researchers at Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill., who point out the obviousthat these displays offer minimal ­tactile feedback. But suppose touch screens could touch you back: You could ”feel,” say, the edges of the buttons on a virtual keypad or the links on a Web page.

Recently, at the IEEE-­sponsored World Haptics Conference 2009, in Salt Lake City, Michael A. Peshkin and J. Edward Colgate, mechanical engineering professors and codirectors of Northwestern’s Laboratory for Intelligent Mechanical Systems, described their candidate for such an enhanced touch screen--a device they call the Tactile Pattern Display, or TPaD. It can create the illusion of texture on an unadorned piece of glass.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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