The state of multi-touch, as of April 2009

So if you’re like me, you’ve seen Microsoft Surface:

  

 

and Jeff Han’s Perspective Pixel company (see video on their main page). A Microsoft Surface device costs $12,500 – which makes it a bit impractical. But then again, there are these guys who say you can build one on your own, for just a couple hundred dollars!

Build your own Microsoft Surface device for a couple hundred dollars (with pictures)
http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/maximum_pc_builds_a_multitouch_surface_computer?page=0%2C0

The multitouch project
http://multitouchproject.blogspot.com/

Check out this video!

  

And you’re saying “great. This is great technology, how do I start digging in?”. Well, it seems there are two parts to that answer – hardware and software.

Hardware:

This “multi-touch” thing means that you need a monitor or display device that can read your finger pressure among other things (like bar codes). You can do this with your regular monitor, you’ll just get fingerprints all over your monitor – don’t try it!

So, where do you start? Why not search the web, so let’s see what we get:

http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=multitouch+monitor
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=multitouch+monitor

Basically, you get nothing – or worse, you can a million websites that talk about a Taiwanese company named Albatron, who announced a multi-touch monitor. But, when you look deeper, you’ll find that http://www.albatron.com.tw/ doesn’t appear to sell monitors – and there is no announcement. So either A) this is vaporware or B) they have the worst marketing department in the civilized world – because the FIRST company to do this, will likely get some traction. So if it were real, you would think they would leverage their website to announce it.

ANYhow – moving on. So as far as I can tell, as of right now – there are no multi-touch monitors available to buy and no legitimate company that has announced when they will have one. With that said, there are plenty of websites that claim that multi-touch monitors will be 120% the cost of a comparable LCD. I’m not sure how pricing is available before the product is created!?

So where does this leave us? Well – with tablet laptops and an all-in-one PC. From what I gather, there are exactly two production systems that support multi-touch, and they are both from HP:

HP TouchSmart tx2z tablet (starts ~$899 MSRP)
HP TouchSmart IQ500t/IQ800t desktop all-in-one (starts ~$1199 MSRP)

On the HP site, it specifically says the tablet machine supports multitouch – but it doesn’t explicitly say it for the all-in-one. But, I’ve seen a few sites that say that it does support multi-touch. So for now, it looks like these are your only choices…

Software:

This gets a little interesting too. So Windows 7 will natively support Multi-touch. So I guess the theory is, you could get a TouchSmart tx2z, put Windows 7 on it – and you’re at least barking up the right tree. Well, that’s the road I’m taking at the moment.

However, up until Windows 7, what have people been using? What does Microsoft Surface use for an API to be able to interact with multi-touch gestures? Well is seems as though there is exactly one answer to that:

TouchLib
http://www.nuigroup.com/touchlib/

———–

So that’s basically what I’ve found so far. Also, here is a decent site that seems to have some decent information on Multi-touch: http://www.multigesture.net/articles/

I ordered the tx2z tablet and that should be in this week. I’ll load Windows 7 beta on it and report back. I also plan to put VS2008 and TouchLib on there and start digging in and seeing if I can’t get some answers on ‘where to start’, because there is surprisingly little written about all this on the web! Wish me luck…

Posted in Multi-Touch, Uncategorized

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