TouchInput

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TouchInput - Psychtoolbox support for touch input devices.

Psychtoolbox currently supports touch input devices like
touchscreens and touchpads on Linux with the classic X11
X-Display system, ie. when running under a classic X-Server.

The way you use such devices to get touch input, is as follows:

  1. Find the device(s) to use for touch input via GetTouchDeviceIndices().

  2. Get basic information about a device of choice via GetTouchDeviceInfo().

  3. Create (TouchQueueCreate a touch input queue for the selected device.

  4. Use TouchQueueStart(), TouchQueueStop() and TouchEventFlush() to start,
    and stop data collection, or to discard all currently pending touch input.

  5. Use TouchEventAvail() to find the number of collected touch events, and
    TouchEventGet() to retrieve events. These events provide all the basic
    information of interest: The time when the event was received, the (x,y)
    touch coordinates in different useful coordinate systems, if it was a
    start of a new touch, the end of an old touch, or some state change on an
    existing touch, e.g., position, pressure, shape etc. Additional device
    and operating system specific info (non-portable!) can be retrieved via
    the helper function GetTouchValuators().

See the help for the functions mentioned above for more details. The demo
MultiTouchDemo.m demonstrates most of this functionality.

MultiTouchMinimalDemo.m shows a more basic demo of how to get the essentials.

You can measure the latency and timing accuracy with KeyboardLatencyTest(),
selecting a modality setting of 10 and using a soundcard + microphone.
The latency of touch screens varies greatly across vendors and models.
For reference, the ELAN touchscreen built into the flat-panel of a tested
RazerBlade 2016 gaming laptop had a latency as low as 16 msecs for reporting
touches, with a low standard deviation of 2 msecs, but the Synaptics TM2438-005
touchpad in the same laptop had a latency of about 130 msecs [stddev ~4 msecs].

A tested Apple Magic touchpad fared at about 50 msecs, an Apple MacBookPro
mouse touchpad at about 25 msecs with over 4 msecs standard deviation.

While touchscreens should just work as expected, touchpads are not designed
for “touchscreen-like” touch input. If you want to get them to act as mini-
touchscreens, you will have to disable use of the “synaptics” touchpad driver,
e.g., by uninstalling the xf86-input-synaptics package, or by removing or
editing or overriding the synaptics configuration file. This file can be
found in the directory /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/ on many systems. After
modifying the system this way and logging out and logging in again, you
should have a touchpad that no longer works for controlling a mouse pointer,
but can work as a minimalistic touchscreen replacement. Alternatively read on
for a way to override the default settings.

On systems which use the xserver-xorg-input-libinput driver for touch input, the
amount of information provided about each touch point is somewhat limited, at least
as of the state of Ubuntu 17.10. If you want maximally detailed information about
touch input, you should instead install the xserver-xorg-input-evdev driver and then
override the system default input configuration to use the evdev input driver
for touchscreens. You can do this easily by copying the file …

Psychtoolbox/PsychHardware/99-evdev-touchscreen.conf

… into the folder /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ and then logout and login again. This
would activate evdev for maximum detail in touch input reporting, e.g., to provide
info about the shape, size and orientation of a touch point, the type of touchpoint
(finger, palm, some digitizer pen or tool), the distance of the tool from the touch
surface, or the pressure exerted onto the touch surface by a tool or finger.

This sample configuration file also contains a commented out section that allows
to disable the synaptics driver for touchpads and instead also use evdev for them,
to allow their (ab)use as mini touchscreens, while disabling their regular touchpad
functionality. All you’d have to do is comment that section in again, logout and
login once.

Path   Retrieve current version from GitHub | View changelog
Psychtoolbox/PsychDocumentation/TouchInput.m