Multi-touch: one step further

by Giles Turnbull

About a month ago, in the aftermath of the iPhone announcement, I wondered aloud what the future of multi-touch might be. Stupidly, I concentrated my speculation on small, handheld devices and tablet-style computers. But why should multi-touch environments be small..?


2007-02-08 07:14:27
I think that would run a little slower on my macbook...

Seriously, when I think about what I do all day in front of a computer, this stuff leaves me a little cold. What's still missing, for me, is alternative text input that works.

Adam Rice
2007-02-08 07:35:11
As William Gibson said, the future is here, it's just not evenly distributed. Wow.
2007-02-08 07:39:12
Is that a simulation, or for real ? In any case, I think they need to work on the UI, because there's a hell of a lot of re-arrangement going on there ! I think I'd get sick of that pretty quick. However, I do think it's a glimpse of the future.
2007-02-08 07:39:58
This is going somewhere! I'm looking for Apple to be first to market with Multi-touch on a personal computer that really works. I use a Wacom tablet for everyday mouse work and like it, but Steve Jobs is right about the stylus. It should go away.
2007-02-08 09:01:06
This looks a lot like the Librarian / post-it-notes in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash at around 1:30.. wow! (The part where he does the image search and then stacks and rearranges the images, tosses some of them off to the side, etc.)
Mark Hunte
2007-02-08 10:36:52
I saw the last video of the tech, last year, and realised the link to the iPhone.
The way they have displayed the demo is just to give the idea of potential,
I work with thousands of pictures a day, there would be a use for me with this tech in some aspects of my work. I even showed the last video to my bosses at the time, which went down very well.

2007-02-08 10:55:04
Reminds me of the movie Minority Report;-)
2007-02-08 15:47:44
That is fantastic. Truly, the future of computing. I agree though, the next hurdle to face is text input. And no, I don't like talking to my computer either. I also don't like having to type every single letter - it takes too long. Is it so hard to get predictive text input that can search the dictionary?
2007-02-08 19:50:00
Yeah, I've seen this before, and my reaction was pretty typical . . . "I want this, and now." In seems inconcievable that this won't be where computers head within the next couple of decades, although we may have to wait a little while.

In response to some other posts, I definitely agree about text input. It seems strange that we could move the UI of the computer so far forward yet still input text on a glorified typewriter. The Dvorak layout came out (and who uses it?), but other then that there has been no real innovations on that front. Still, we might see something, and a UI like that would move absolutely every other facet of computing ahead light years.

Oh, and, yes this is 100% real, not a simulation. This guy has been working on this for a few years now. The iPhone pinch/zoom gesture is "borrowed" from one of his demos.

Randy Smith
2007-02-08 21:11:33
First I heard of a multi-touch controller that was on the market was the Lemur. Of course the Lemur is geared towards music production but it is cool none the less.

2007-02-08 23:58:08
It looks good, but will never make it into a mainstream OS. First of all: Imagine having to gesture and keep your hands up all day long. Or try that now for more than 20 minutes.

Especially the sequence with the ordering of the images left me thinking: "Why re-introduce clutter and files hiding under files when i can look at a nice list that is sortable by various criteria with one click and searchable with one quick click and one or two keystrokes?"

See also Jakob Nielsens thoughts on that.

I see some use in that technology for total technophobes and children. But for everyday work? Never!

Mauro Mello Jr.
2007-02-09 06:17:59
It is interesting to consider that you can also do it via a separate trackpad (e.g., the largish one in the MacBook Pros, which already accept two-finger gestures) so you don't need to go for the screen. You could do all the gestures on a smaller surface and still achieve the same results (or maybe not the gestures involving very fine detail), or work both on the trackpad and the screen, and several people could collaborate (from a distance) on something.
2007-02-09 11:05:10
Hm ... no video here. Guess it's gone. Any other source?
2007-02-09 14:31:52
Wow. Impressive. But it really makes me wonder how much computer they have behind that screen, because I'm pretty sure they couldn't be doing all that with one Mac Pro even with 4 graphics cards in it.