The touch-screen grows up before our eyes

Remember when you thought your first Palm Pilot was the coolest device ever? Touch-screens have evolved light-years since then.

  • LucidTouch Artist Rendering 3

    Also shown are artists' renderings of how users' fingers might be represented on such a device.
  • LucidTouch Artist Rendering 1

    Also shown are artists' renderings of how users' fingers might be represented on such a device.
  • Mitsubishi's DiamondTouch Table

    Taking the collaborative table-top computer a step further, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories' DiamondTouch Table can identify different users who are touching it simultaneously. Multiple antennas embedded under the surface transmit small radio-frequency signals to the fingertips of users, completing a circuit through each user's chair, which is wired into a separate receiver channel.
  • The Active Desk

    Bill Buxton demonstrates "The Active Desk," a touch-screen device developed in 1992 at the University of Toronto. Buxton explains: "It used rear projection, and had a high-resolution stylus for input. What is easy to miss in the photo is the fact that I am working with two remote collaborators. Each has a presence by way of a small camera/monitor/speaker/microphone [you can see one in the photo]. The idea was that all three of us had a shared view of the design that I am shown working on. Fundamental to the idea, contrary to most desktop video, is that there should be a differentiation between person space and task space. Stated more simply, your face should not appear on the same surface as my work."
  • LucidTouch

    Microsoft Corp. researcher Patrick Baudisch demonstrates a prototype LucidTouch device, which allows him to control the device from the back so his fingers don't get in the way. His fingers appear as shadowy outlines behind the on-screen application.
  • METRO Future Store

    An example of a business that could take advantage of such technology, says IBM Research's Claudio Pinhanez, is the METRO Future Store in Rheinberg, Germany. At a kiosk, shoppers enter the name of the particular wine they're interested in, and a spotlight appears on the floor in front of the chosen item. Pinhanez envisions making these spotlights into touch-input devices as described above.
  • LucidTouch Artist Rendering 2

    Also shown are artists' renderings of how users' fingers might be represented on such a device.
  • Everywhere Displays

    A diagram of the Everywhere Displays projection system from IBM. Projectors, mounted in one or more parts of an ordinary room, project images of "touch screens" onto ordinary surfaces, such as tables, walls or the floor. Video cameras capture images of users touching various parts of the surfaces and send that information for interpretation by a computer.
  • Microsoft's Surface

    Microsoft's Surface computer is big enough for several people to use simultaneously. Cameras embedded inside Surface, which runs on Windows Vista, sense user input in the form of touch and gestures (finger movements across the screen) and can capture the information needed to identify objects laid on it.
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