Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Wall-Size Touch Screens

Multi-touch displays advance.

The iPhone may be getting lots of attention, but Steve Jobs has no corner on “multi-touch” displays, which allow a person to use multiple fingers to do things like zoom in and out of pictures. At New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, research scientist Jeff Han has developed an effective way to make large, very high-­resolution screens that accommodate 10, 20, or even more fingers. Applications could include interactive white boards, touch-screen tables, and digital walls.

Using as many fingers as they like on large touch screens, researchers at New York University drag, drop, crop, and resize images.

In Han’s setup, a digital projector shines an image on a six-­millimeter-thick clear acrylic screen. Touch sensitivity comes from infrared light-emitting diodes attached to the edges of the screen. Normally, the diodes’ light reflects internally and stays trapped within the acrylic. Once fingers or other objects touch the acrylic, though, the light diffuses at the point of contact and scatters outside the surface. A camera behind the screen detects these changes. Simple image-processing software can interpret the scattering, in real time, as discrete touches and strokes.

This story is part of our March/April 2007 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

“The new iPhone is too small to be a very interesting multi-touch device,” says Han. With larger screens, multiple users could collabo­rate–in brainstorming sessions that use networked, interactive white boards, for instance, or animation sessions joined by many artists.

Versions of multi-touch technology have been around since the 1980s, but they never took off commercially. Multi-touch screens “never completely went away, but they’re coming back in different ways,” says Bill ­Buxton, principal researcher at Microsoft Research. Han’s company, Perceptive Pixel, shipped its first wall-size screen to an undisclosed U.S. military customer this winter.

Cut off? Read unlimited articles today.

Become an Insider
Already an Insider? Log in.

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

    Bimonthly digital/PDF edition

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special interest publications

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Ad-free web experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Bimonthly print magazine (6 issues per year)

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.