Drive To Discover

Multi-touch, multi-user screens in development

Sunday, December 18, 2011

This week, Microsoft begins accepting orders for its new touchscreen TV, called "Surface". You can hang it on a wall, or use it as a table. Microsoft isn't alone. Devices like this are changing the way you'll interact with the screen that you're watching right now. Richard Hart reports on the Drive to Discover a smarter TV.

Tim Korpela, who works for a company named MultiTouch, demonstrates something, "that can then be manipulated and interactive with your hands," on a 50-inch TV lying on a table.

It's revolutionary in a number of ways. The newest screens are multi-touch and multi-user. "MultiTouch" means multiple fingers can perform multiple instructions.

"You can do it with your fingertips, or I can do this with two hands," Korpela explains.

"Multi-user" means that multiple users can use multiple fingers at the same time.

Korpela observes, "Children today just expect a video wall to be interactive." Sure you can do multi-touch on your iPad or your iPhone, but the new screens offer something that you can't do on it... yet.

"Our technology is based on optical tracking that sees through the LCD. So, everything that is on the screen we see. That can be hands, that can be fingertips, but that can also be real-life objects like these."

Tim Korpela tosses business cards and candy boxes onto the glass. And they are recognized and tracked. The newest screen from MultiTouch can track an infinite number of fingers on an infinite number of users.

"Unlimited. It's really the physical space around the display that determines how many people."

Microsoft is promoting its product, named Surface, as a way for doctors and patients to interact, to turn coffee shop conversations into touchfests. Imagine using your hand to throw a football in a videogame. Multitouch was first out of the gate, is still ahead of Microsoft in features, and says it welcomes the arrival of Surface.

"The multi-touch market is in its infancy, really."

You still can't touch Multi-touch TVs for less than $10,000 -- fine for corporations or devoted home theater buffs. Still, according to Tim, "We believe that this technology will be in your home in two or three year's time."

It's nice to know that there finally is a remote that you can't lose. And that you can reach out and touch your favorite news anchor.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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microsoft, tablets, computers, television, drive to discover
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