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Under Investigation: Multitouch for Samsung Galaxy

August 6th, 2009

Short: It seems like this is unpossible today. No driver, unkown hardware support.

The full story

After a working backup and restore for the Samsung Galaxy, i planned to show multitouch on it. But this is really harder to implement.

The multitouch hack for G1 and Magic based on a better driver. The hardware from HTC has multitouch feature. But Google has removed the support from android, to get avoid trouble with the apple.

The HTC devices have a synaptics touchscreen. The linux support for this is really good. This include mutitouch support for many Netbooks/Notebooks and other devices with linux. The driver is in the mainline kernel and many people know to use it. This have it make easier to find out the way for enabling multitouch on G1 and Magic. The trick was just only uncomment some lines of the Synaptics I2C driver (synaptics_i2c_rmi.c: lines 132-151) and patch the Apps to using multitouch.

The Samsung Galaxy use an other vendor for the touchscreen. I found a Melfas tsi touchsreen in my Galaxy. Melfas is a “Touch Sensor solution provider” located in South Korea. The search for linux support for melfas touchscreen brings one result. For “MELPAS MCS-5000 Touchscreen” exist a driver. But is this the same as used in the Galaxy?

I want to look in the sources of android to get more information. But where are the sources for the Galaxy kernel??? In the android repo under http://android.git.kernel.org i can’t find them. No for the Melfas touchscreen and also no other Galaxy specific stuff!

I have compiled my own kernel with the config from the Samsung Galaxy, which has a size of 1.4mb. This is very smaller as the 1.9mb of the Kernel shipped with the last update. This seems like, that Samsung has not only forget to publish the source code of the touchsreen. I send Samsung an email about this and waiting for the answers.

Another problem, i can’t found that Melfas is able to produce multitouch  touchscreens. On her english website there is nothing to read about products with multitouch. It exist a Windows 7 article, that explained the touchscreen featured with Melfas, but no words about multitouch. And Google search found also no multitouch product from Melfas.

Is this really bad news??? Write a comment with your opinion.

(more about android and multitouch: lukehutch.wordpress.com)

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19 Responses to Under Investigation: Multitouch for Samsung Galaxy

  1. Sven says:

    I used to be skeptical about multitouch on iPhone. It just did not seem to be a big deal and I couldn’t understand why all that hype. But now I miss is it in maps on galaxy…

    You said you compiled your own kernel. What about other drivers for radio, camera, etc?

  2. Sepp says:

    I can live without multitouch.

    What I miss more is the Samsung kernel source tree.

  3. leromarinvit says:

    Does your kernel actually boot? I was under the impression that the required board-specific stuff in arch/arm/mach-msm (MACH_CAPELA etc.) was missing.

  4. leromarinvit says:

    Forgot to mention that I think the MCS-5000 driver is probably the one we need: In an LKML thread about the HTC Dream touchscreen Mark Brown said he “added the folks from Samsung posting the MELFAS MCS-5000 driver”, so our chances are good it’s the right one.

  5. Steffen Lindner says:

    “Does your kernel actually boot? I was under the impression that the required board-specific stuff in arch/arm/mach-msm (MACH_CAPELA etc.) was missing”

    My own kernel does not booting.

    “…, so our chances are good it’s the right one.”

    Good news. I hope too.

  6. djk314 says:

    Hope it will work ;)

  7. ICU says:

    The minority report movie must pay for using multitouch in 2002.

  8. Kenneth Tse says:

    Besides the driver, can we confirmed the hardware is multi-touch capable?

    This would be one of the key factor for me to choose from Galaxy and HTC Hero :p

  9. dj_ecr says:

    I personally don’t need multitouch, but i can understand the ones which want it, cause if the galaxy is capable of it, why don’t use it?
    But i have more interest in the full kernelsources for building own bootable!, maybe faster/thinner kernels.

    But if someone wants to extend things like the pictureviewer with support for zoom n next/prev with sliding, does he need the driver(sources) too? (I know u can write a own pictureviewer of course)

  10. Kenneth Tse says:

    I am not sure about the kernelsources as Android is licensed with Apache 2.0. Samsung may just adopt it and make it their own product without releasing the source code. Wish them understand one of the advantage of Android is being open source :)

    Maybe he or she just need to work with the Android API to add multi-touch support with pictureviewer. It seems that Android 2.0 does have multitouch API support.

  11. Steffen Lindner says:

    It is right, the license of Android is Apache 2.0. But Samsung use the Linux kernel. And this is licensed under the GPL. Making their own Linux kernel without releasing the source code is not allowed under this license!

  12. Jožek says:

    Steffen,

    can you please post short howto guide how you compiled the kernel. I’m familiar with kernel compiling on linux, but i’m unable to get working ‘make menuconfig’, just to see what’s inside. tnx.

  13. Sven Killig says:

    I asked the author of mcs5000_ts.c whether he knows how to enable multi-touch. He answered that he thinks the MCS-5000 doesn’t support multi-touch. Instead it has a register for the gesture, but he doesn’t know how to use it.

  14. dad says:

    Engadget Android says Galaxy’s touchscreen is capacitive…should that be enough at least in HW requirements for multitouch…and if so has anyone figured out how plz?

  15. testman says:

    As anybody tried to contact Melfas for information about their chip and how much simulatenous touch it handled ? and if it support any choregraphy API ?

    I would be surprised that they quote multitouch articles and push a chip that does not support it ;-)

    The problem remains : how to get an example of code to use the chip …

  16. Lux says:

    as far as i know, even if you can realize a multi touch function only by a software, apple uses a special chip for multi touch (to have a performance, which often makes the difference). this is, by the way, the reason why there is no way to patch my 2 year old macbook to support multi touch. the apple multi touch software is only capable for devices with such a chip.

    so if the chip of the melfas has no special multi touch capability, multi touch could only be realized as software instead of hardware. but because the performance of a smartphone is very limited, but a usable multi touch function is a very time-critical thing, multi touch only as software makes no sense here. so if melfas, does not have any multi touch product, it looks like they use a chip which does have no hardware support for this. (or they simply don’t care of these additional functions in the chip.)

    anyhow, the main question is, which chip they use. in many electronic fields, smaller manufacturers, use simply the sample drivers or electronic layouts 1:1, which are provided by the chip manufacturer.

    what’s about samsung notebooks? do they also use melfas touch pads?

  17. Steffen Lindner says:

    The Touchcontroller-Firmware has no support for multitouch and must be change. The chip spec is unknown, but the same chip are built in in many Samsung mobiles. I did not found any more to this feature from Samsung.

  18. George says:

    This is a bit of thread necromancy, but for the benefit of anyone who finds this via Google, the sources can probably be found at Samsung’s Open Source Release Center, here:

    http://opensource.samsung.com/reception/reception_main.do

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