Thursday, March 22, 2007

Perceptive Pixel - Large Interactive Touchscreens

Jefferson Han, the person whose work on interactive touchscreens has been all over YouTube and featured at the TED conference, has founded a startup to commercialize his technologies.

I think it's interesting that large interactive screens have been around for quite a while. For example, Stanford's iRoom, Fraunhofer IPSI's iLand, the old Liveworks (that commercialized the LiveBoard), Smart Technologies (that sells SmartBoards), and MERL's DiamondTouch, just to name a few.

I remember being the session chair for Jefferson when he presented at UIST 2005, and thinking that there were two key differences. The first is that the technology is cheaper than anything else out there. Ridiculously cheaper by an order of magnitude. Most large interactive displays cost thousands of dollars, whereas Jefferson's work only required a cheap sheet of plexiglass, a projector, and a camera. It's cheap enough that I've been trying to encourage students in my classes to build their own (without any results yet though).

But I don't think this was enough to capture the blogosphere's attention. I think what really took hold was the smooth interaction techniques that he's developed. Most of them aren't novel from an interaction standpoint, but they highly polished and look really fun to use. Take a look at the original videos of the multi-touch screen and the videos showing the larger screens used for the startup, and you'll see what I mean. They've got a fast response rate, a certain flair, and a fun sense of play, definitely things we should pay more attention to in research.

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