Late last month, we quietly introduced our new MT55 HD Multitouch Table. Today our first production unit shipped with many more headed out this week and next. (US and Canada only for now.) The table is major step forward with a huge 55″ HD LED LCD display in a hardened case which is less than 3 inches thick!
The multitouch table is a fully integrated, hardened system and it includes an integrated HP computer with a three-year warranty. It has single button operation, integrated power and cooling, a UPS back-up system, controllable LED under-lighting, and even a Bose audio system. The table also comes with the GestureWorks multitouch SDK. (You can see the full specifications on our MT55 HD product page.)
Last week, we unveiled the MT55 HD at the Museums and the Web conference in Philadelphia. We are now preparing for the American Association of Museums (AAM) conference and we have designed an ad for the conference program. Here’s a sneak peak of the full-page MT55 HD advertisement:
This week we are working on a polished promotional video that will show off all the features of the MT55 HD. Right now, we have a short video of the MT55 HD in action and a few photographs on our Flickr site (see the MT55 HD Multitouch Table set). Watch for our promotional video, we’ll be posting it very soon.
Over on Open Exhibits, we’ve just released a new template called the Magnifier Viewer. The template has an integrated multitouch-enabled magnifier object that can be used with a variety of media items such as images and Google Maps. We’ve been looking to integrate this magnifier into Open Exhibits and make it available to the community ever since we developed it for the California Mapping exhibit with Oakland Museum last year.
The Magnifier Viewer has different styled magnifiers (round or square, brass or silver, handles or no handles) that can be changed via XML settings. This flexible template can be used to create a variety of custom exhibits. Just add media and customize the XML and you’re ready to go.
This template and a dozen other software modules are available free on the Open Exhibits site. Museums, students, universities, and non-profits can get the Open Exhibits Core SDK for free too. Comercial users will need the GestureWorks framework to use the free modules. Open Exhibits and GestureWorks require Adobe Flash or Flex.
We’ll be showing how to use this template and other software modules at an Open Exhibits bootcamp workshop next week at Museums and the Web conference in Philadelphia.
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.
Fast Company’s Design Blog posted an interesting infographic yesterday on the Next 25 Years in Emerging Tech. I’ve been a fan of well-constructed infographics and folks in the studio have been passing around some really interesting infographics from Good.is lately. This particular graphic was constructed by Michell Zappa and maps a number of emerging technologies.
The technologies that we were most interested in have to do with Natural User Interfaces. Under the heading NUI, the infographic lists: multitouch, gesture recognition, augmented reality, speech recognition, haptics, telepresence, and machine vision.
The contents for the graphic were researched from “hundreds of articles, magazines, and books” and the site lists a number of sources. The graphic is available as high-resolution PNG and as PDF and it released with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
Our module for Kinect provides a simple solution for authoring gesture-based applications in Flash. Lately, we’ve been using it in conjunction with our other free Open Exhibits software modules. While the Kinect device itself doesn’t have the necessary precision for use with every module, we have successfully paired it with our gigapixel image viewer, our new VR Panoramic image viewer, and with our Google Maps module.
Our free Kinect module works with Community Core Vision (CCV) software, an open source software package for computer vision. We’ve used this software in the past with various multitouch tables and other installations. Our Kinect module is a “directshow” source filter, a virtualized webcam device that reads data from the drivers released by OpenKinect.
Here’s a video showing the Kinect module working with other Open Exhibits software.
The Kinect module and the others are all free and open on the Open Exhibits website. The Open Exhibits core software is free for students, educators, nonprofits, and museums. (Commercial users can download a free GestureWorks trial.) Add a $150 Kinect 3D Motion Controller to our software and you have a very cheap and flexible authoring solution.
There are photographs of the Kinect and Open Exhibits modules on the OE Flickr site.
This article is cross-posted on the Open Exhibits Website.In the video, the gigapixel image of El Capitán that appeared in the example was provided by xRez Studio. The cubic VR image of Chichen Itza was taken by Ideum back in 2005 and is part of the Traditions of the Sun project.
GestureWorks multitouch software is now available for purchase bundled with Touch Revolution’s TRū™ multitouch desktop monitors. These bundles are available in the new Touch Revolution online store. You can choose between the 15, 19, and 22 inch models.
The TRū™ Touch monitors have a very cool bezel-free design and are extremely durable. The 22″ model has HD resolution. You can learn more about the monitors and the bundle in the Touch Revolution online store.
You can see a video of the 22″ TRū™ Touch Monitor in action with a multitouch version of asteroids that we developed with Touch Revolution for CES that we posted last month.
We’ve recently made some significant changes to GestureWorks to improve Flex authoring. Today, we are releasing GestureWorks 2.1 for Flex, a dedicated version of GestureWorks for Flashbuilder, AIR, Eclipse, and PowerFlasher FDT.
This new build offers enhanced support for custom development environments and a restructured event system, making it more compatible with existing Flex tools. GestureWorks 2.1 for Flex broadens your development and publishing options, too. Using the new SDK, developers can publish to SWF, AIR or projector EXE. With GestureWorks or MXML or add Air 2.5 to publish AIR applications.
Current users will be able to upgrade to the new Flex build for free using their existing license key. New users can download a free trial of the GestureWorks for Flex here.
[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.
A GestureWorks application is helping the Onion News Network create “the most reliable news on television.” The Onion News Network, a new show from the popular satirical news source The Onion, debuts Friday using the multitouch Recon Wall media browsing application.
Inside The Onion News Network
The Recon Wall is a custom-built GestureWorks application that allows Onion anchors to manipulate and draw on images or video in real-time. The app is featured on a 52″ NextWindow 2700 overlay. An inexpensive 2-point alternative to CNN’s $100,000+ touch wall, the NextWindow system, including LCD & software, cost around $5000.
You can view the Recon Wall throughout the video above (or zip ahead to 1:26 to see Tucker Hope using it). And be sure to tune into IFC at 10 EST (8 MST for our local friends) to watch the Onion News Network.
Or see more of the app functionality in this video:
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.