Friday, June 6, 2008

Multi-touch Technology on Steroids


If you've ever wondered whether the 'multi-touch' technology present on Apple's iPhone and iPod products would make sense on a larger scale, then take a look at this video from perceptivepixel.com.

This technology has been being worked on since at least 2006 by Jeff Han, as a spinoff of an NYU project, and it has been featured on CNN's election coverage, and written up in several places, including this article on OSNews.com. Though I'm completely sold on the promise of this technology for vertical applications such as weather and news, I do wonder about the usefulness of this technology in the general purpose computing space.

Wondering about this technology's general usefulness doesn't mean it can't be an excellent niche market tech, but the prospect of most knowledge workers or others who enter a lot of data into their computer using this interface makes me cringe. Some people can get by with just 'haptic' feedback (ala the iPhone's typing mechanism), while others feel more comfortable with a dedicated keyboard (such as a laptop or Blackberry).

Still, a smaller-scale (say, small wall or painting-sized) version of Perceptive Pixel could make an excellent photo album/HVAC/AV controller for home use. If they can get the price down and also start making a variety of sizes to suit specific vertical niches, we may start thinking of multi-touch as a mainstream user interface paradigm, instead of the 'space age' awe it holds now.