As we have expanded our line of multitouch hardware, one of the most frequent questions we get is about the difference between the two types of touch technologies that we employ.
To help demystify the technical differences, this post will speak to the two distinct types of touch technology that we use in our multitouch hardware: projected capacitive touch and infrared (IR) overlay. Both are robust and reliable technologies, but there are some significant differences in both how they work and in the types of settings that one would consider optimal for each touch technology.
Projected Capacitive Technology
Projected capacitive (pro-cap or PCT) touch technology is used in such popular handheld devices as smartphones and tablets. Only recently has the technology been able to be scaled up for use in large screen applications like multitouch tables.
How does pro-cap work? Touch is detected when a finger or stylus comes in contact with the surface which signals a change in the system’s electromagnetic field and capacitance. The change, triggered by the touch, is then pin-pointed and converted to locations on an X, Y grid that the system uses to determine the placement of the touch. A conductive grid pattern of is applied to film or glass to create the projected capacitive field.
The pros of projected capacitive touch systems are:
• bezel-less technology (flush all glass surface)
• impervious to light interference, works in any setting
• very accurate and responsive, same technology found in tablets and smart phones.
• will only detect touch from a finger or stylus
• solid objects can be placed on the display surface without interrupting touch capabilities on other areas of the display
• easy to clean (water and dust resistant)
• capable of 60 touch points
• smooth gesture recognition
• rapid and smooth response
• technology not widely available in larger sized screens
• some film applications can interfere with image quality
We use projected capacitive touch technology with our Platform Multitouch Coffee Tables and our full-sized Platform 46 Multitouch Table. Since the glass surface is flush (no bezel) and water resistant (IP54 rating) we use it exclusively on our multitouch coffee tables.
Infrared (IR) Touch Overlays
Infrared touch overlays are embedded in a bezel around the display and emit vertical and horizontal rows of infrared LEDs and sensors. The infrared light in the overlay creates an invisible grid of infrared beams and sensors detect touch when the plane of the grid is broken by a finger touch (or other solid object).
The pros of infrared overlays:
• scales to larger displays and is economical
• up to 40 simultaneous touch points
• accurate touch, short response time
• smooth gesture recognition
• easy to create custom sized screens
• monitor and touch overlay are discrete, allowing for upgrades or easy replacement
• performs in just about any indoor lighting environment (unlike many camera-based or vision-based systems, such as the SUR40)
• does not interfere in any way with image quality
• solid objects or other obstructions can cause occlusion
• the IR overlay creates a bezel around the screen
• performance can be affected by extremely bright outdoor light or direct sunlight
• accessing the Windows 8 OS charms menu can be difficult because of the bezel
We use infrared touch systems on our larger touch displays as it is an affordable, readily available, reliable, and easily scalable technology. All of our large (55” and 65”) touch walls use IR overlays, as do the 55” Platform Multitouch Table, 55” Pro Multitouch Tables, and the 100” Pano Multitouch Table.
Images courtesy of 3M Touch Systems, check out their Touch Topics site to learn more.
We’ve always been asked if we rent our multitouch tables, well now we do! Finally, you can rent a Platform 46 full-size table or a Platform 46 / 32 coffee table for your event. Wow your guests or clients with our one-of-a-kind tables and present your content with socially engaging technology. We offer short and long-term rentals to accommodate your needs.
Check out our multitouch rentals microsite for more information.
For questions, and for bookings and availability, please contact us at (505) 792-1110 ext. 1 or toll free in the US and Canada (855) 898-6824, or email@example.com. Rentals are available in the United States and Canada only.
GestureWorks Gameplay has gotten a lot of attention since its launch at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF 2013) last month in San Francisco. Besides being featured in the keynote and in demos at IDF, Engadget, Joystiq, and Gizmag covered the release. Now the software is ready for Beta release and the first invitations have been sent out.
Those who participate in the Beta program will be getting more than they might have expected. With help from Intel, we are providing free release copies of the software to all the folks who signed up for Beta in September and the next 1,000 who sign up this month!
To sign up, go to: https://gameplay.gestureworks.com
Beta users will receive their invitations into the Beta program starting October 3rd.
Here’s a video of Gameplay in action on new Intel Bay Trail tablet (also announced at IDF). The game shown is one of our favorites, Castle Crashers.
If you’ve read Ideum Blog and you’ve been keeping up with GestureWorks and Open Exhibits, you know that we’re fast moving and productive group. The unfortunate thing about being this productive is that we often don’t get the chance to share all the cool ideas, experiments, and discoveries we’ve made along the way.
Enter Ideum Labs, our new Tumblr blog. Labs was conceived as a high output, low production value home for Ideum and GestureWorks Staff to share raw ideas, UX experiments, project snippets, random acts of science, and interesting HCI + multitouch news.
Here at Ideum, we take pride in building the most ruggedized multitouch tables in the world. When Microsoft announced the
Surface 2.0 ®, they referred to it as a ”Ruggedized PC… designed for industrial commercial application, ” bragging that the Surface 2.0 ® “can take the impact of a beer bottle dropped from 18 inches without breaking.” We respectfully disagree with Microsoft’s definition of ruggedized.
Ideum’s multitouch tables are designed and engineered to withstand significantly more abuse than a falling beer bottle. Last year we dropped a 13 lb. bowling ball on our MT-50 multitouch table (now discontinued). Just last week, we opted to repeat “The Bowling Ball Test” on our sleek new MT55 Platform multitouch table. Admittedly, we worried that we might be pushing the limits of careful engineering…
How did the MT55 Platform perform? Watch this amazing video to find out:
As “The Bowling Ball Test” demonstrates Ideum’s multitouch tables are truly ruggedized for public use; built from aircraft-grade aluminum, cold-rolled steel and protected by a hardened glass surface. This level of stress testing ensures that the Ideum MT55 series will meet or exceed the demands of busy public environments, blending strength, high performance and exceptional design into a plug-and-play form factor. Don’t try this with any other multitouch table.
A video tour of the MT55 Platform can be seen here, or viewed on our youTube page. For more information, high-resolution photographs, pricing and specifications for the MT55 Pro and Platform multitouch tables visit this page.
This video demonstrates the results of a recent collaboration between SENSUS and our own Open Exhibits software initiative. The concept is simple: make networking and sharing transparent across multitouch devices and operating systems. The demo video shows an Android Tablet (Samsung Galaxy), a Multitouch Table (our own, new MT55), a Windows 7 multitouch kiosk, and an iPod–all sharing media items (images, video, and a Google Map) effortlessly. This easy sharing is made possible with Konnectus software which is a new cloud-computing platform developed by SENSUS.
The Konnectus software and the Open Exhibits modules will be available later this summer. And, Yes! These “network friendly” software modules will also work with our GestureWorks multitouch framework.
Here’s a bit more about Konnectus and our partners at SENSUS…
KonnectUs is a new cloud-computing software platform by SENSUS designed to make sophisticated networking functions easy and intuitive for users across a range of devices including multitouch tables, desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. KonnectUs “Natural Networking Technology (NNT)” empowers users to connect seamlessly across all major platforms – from Windows to Android to iOS. The new software aims to deliver a desktop user experience for key cloud-based services such as file sharing, social networking and location-relevant distribution of content. Additionally, KonnectUs APIs allow developers the opportunity to leverage the power of SENSUS networking technology through integration into third party applications.
You can read the full-press release on the SENSUS Website.
[Cross-posted from Open Exhibits Blog]
We’ve recently released two new modules on Open Exhibits. The gigapixel viewer module allows Open Exhibits and GestureWorks users to plug any gigapixel image into our Flash application and drag and zoom it using multitouch inputs. We recently demo’d this app for the first time at CES 2011 and it was a big hit.
MT-Kinect, our other new module, allows users to interface with a Kinect to manipulate multitouch applications using gesturing (like in the movie Minority Report) rather than directly touching a screen. We combined this module with a gigapixel viewer to create an application that allows you to move and zoom by waving your arms.
So how does our application convert Kinect data to multitouch-compatible input that our Flash application can read? We wrote a “directshow” source filter, a virtualized webcam device that reads data from the drivers released by OpenKinect.
After adjusting the depth data to amplify the edges – which optimizes this application for gestures from a single user centered in the Kinect’s camera – we output a simple webcam feed. We route this information to a vanilla installation of CCV (theoretically, other trackers should work), which runs various filters, finds the blobs, and outputs the data in whatever format we would like to consume (in our case,”flosc,” which enables Flash apps to get “OSC” information ). Our gigapixel viewer software can then read this input as though it came from any multitouch device.
These modules are free to download and use; you just need to be an Open Exhibits member. The gigapixel viewer requires that you have either Open Exhibits Core or GestureWorks software. Open Exhibits Core is available free to educational users. Commercial users can try GestureWorks free or purchase a license.
And if you’re wondering about the stunning gigapixel image of El Capitán, it was taken by xRez Studio who were nice enough to let us use the image for this demo.
No, we haven’t managed to get our hands on the new
Surface yet, but as multitouch hardware manufacturers ourselves, we took a great interest in the redesigned Surface, unveiled yesterday at CES. Looking over the specifications, we found many improvements and a few potential pitfalls . . .
Pro: It has a new 4-inch form factor.
This is huge. For one, visitors can actually get their legs under it, like a real table, and two, it makes wall-mounting the
Surface an option, if you can break it out of its casing or if Microsoft plans to sell it in an open-frame format as well as an integrated solution.
Con: The included computer is kind of wimpy.
Surface 2.0 ships with a AMD Athlon™ II X2 Dual-Core Processor 2.9GHz, which is a perfectly fine processor for a single-user computer, but in our experience will probably have some trouble handling multi-user or media-intensive applications. And if a 40-in high definition screen isn’t designed for multiple users and rich media, what is it designed for?
Pro: It has a lovely new Full HD LCD display.
Samsung is now manufacturing the
Surface 2.0, and the Surface has a full HD LCD display, which is a significant improvement over the last model. If you’ll let us nerd out for a moment, we suspect that they are using a “fourth pixel”-type technology in the LCD to emit infrared light and then a paired receiver to detect when it bounces off something (like a finger) on the surface, which is a pretty darn cool and very elegant way of tracking touch points. The only problem is, it might be hard to upgrade the display as resolution continues to improve on other devices, which was also a sticking point for the last Surface.
Con: The screen is only 40 inches.
Only 40 inches, you say?! That’s huge! . . . Yes, for a single-user system. You’ll notice that even in the promotional video the actors looked a bit squashed around it, making it difficult for this to be a true multi-user system.
Pro: It finally uses Windows 7.
The last Surface needed a keyboard and mouse to handle its Vista-based operating system. The new
Surface uses Windows 7, making the entire system fully-touch enabled. And it also supports Windows 7 64-bit, which is great.
Con: That darn bezel.
Surface ships with a bezel around the edge, which may not seem like that big a deal at first glance. BUT. A lot of touchscreen manufacturers have begun to advertise as “bezel-less” and if you’ve ever used a touchscreen with a bezel on the edge, you begin to understand why. It’s disconcerting to be happily dragging along a virtual object and have your finger hit an actual physical limitation. Not to mention, if you wanted to put this in a bar or museum or other high-traffic place where liquids could get spilled on it, that bezel will ensure that all the soda or coffee or whatever just pools on the screen, potentially damaging the device and creating a cleaning nightmare.
Pro: The price just got cut in half.
Surface now ships for a mere(!) $7,600 (at the time of writing), which is about half of its old purchase price, making it a much more affordable option for museums and other organizations looking for relatively inexpensive interactive solutions.
Con: Not hardened for public use.
The problem with many commercial touch tables, including the new
Surface, is that they simply aren’t hardened enough for long-term, high-traffic use. If you want to throw this thing in your living room, it would probably be fine. If you work at a science center and want to let hundreds and thousands of kids use it every day, it probably won’t. One example: The glass they’re using doesn’t handle load very well, so someone trying to sit or even lean on the table could damage the LCD screen, making the table unusable. Not to mention the problems with the weak CPU that can’t handle intensive multi-user apps and the bezel.
Regardless, this is a major step forward for the
Surface and Microsoft, and we look forward to seeing how people use it, especially in educational or museum contexts.
We’re at CES for the first time this year, promoting GestureWorks and our new partnership with Touch Revolution. While we’ve attended many trade shows and conferences, CES is a spectacle unlike any we’ve seen before, and it seems appropriate that it takes place in Las Vegas.
We’ve noticed 3D and touch are two of the year’s buzzwords, appearing everywhere at CES, so our multitouch 3D molecule viewer fits right in. Built specially for CES, the viewer allows you to manipulate a molecule in 3D space. Shown here on the TRū Touch Monitor, the molecule viewer is the most educationally focused application we’re showing this year. The app offers molecular structure and information for five of the active ingredients in Red Bull, which seemed appropriate for a tech conference.
Robots are also a big hit at this year’s CES, even if they just jitter and giggle. We haven’t gotten into robotics (yet), but you can see the X-ray insides of a toy robot with our X-ray viewer. The app allows you to switch from the visible view of an object to the X-ray view with a simple double tap, and was based on one of our most popular exhibits.
And, if you just want to play a game, there’s always Astrotouch, our multitouch version of Asteroids.
We’ll be updating more as the conference goes on.
As we announced yesterday, we recently partnered with Touch Revolution to create a series of GestureWorks applications for their hardware demos. We’ve been lucky enough the past few weeks to get to play around with the new 21.5″ TRū Touch monitors, which Touch Revolution will be debuting at CES. The TRū Touch monitors are full HD (1920 x 1080), bezel-less, and, like these concept screens, you can tilt them to horizontal angles to make tasks like typing and drawing easier.
We’ve been testing our apps for CES on the TRū Touch, including an amazing gigapixel image viewer that allows you to zoom in close enough to see rock climbers on El Capitan in Yosemite and a 3D object viewer, but so far the hands-down favorite has been Astrotouch, our multitouch version of Asteroids.
The game has a series of old school-style arcade controls at the bottom, and we’ve been nothing but impressed with the screen’s responsiveness and accuracy. Some of the other hardware we had in-house had trouble with ghost points on the controls, but the TRū Touch screen handled it flawlessly every time.
Check out the video above for a sneak peek at the new Touch Revolution hardware, and be sure to visit us at CES. We’ll be at the Touch Revolution Booth, #21755, South Hall Lower Level with a full set of great multitouch applications on display and free gesture illustration posters to give away.