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What is Multi-Touch? What’s the point?

What is Multi-Touch? What’s the point?

Multi-Touch is an advanced technology that allows software to be controlled by touching a special surface. Each finger placed on the Multi-Touch device corresponds to a pointer, much like a mouse pointer. The strength of this technique lies in the fact that you can combine several fingers to trigger interactions Greentouch. The movement of the various pointers-fingers then becomes something very interesting. The question did not arise with a classic mouse but with several pointers, their movements – if they are organized and structured – can trigger actions. Rotating and zooming are arguably the simplest examples. For the end user, this is a real revolution.

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What’s the point?

Like the keyboard and the mouse, Multi-Touch is used to send control information to software. The possible level of interaction of Multi-touch screen goes well beyond the interaction systems existing to this day. It is the start of a new strong technological era and it is only beginning to foresee the possible application potential. Make way for imagination and invention!

How it works?

Today technology exists in many more or less different forms:

Vision-based system: Cameras film the position of the hands on a surface. The image is analyzed by sophisticated algorithms to determine the position of the fingers. Often the image is projected onto this same surface. 

Capacitive system: The finger on the device moves an eclectic current of low potential much like a magnet. The load variation is measured at the surface of the device to determine the position of the fingers. IPhone is an example of a capacitive screen. Another is the 3M screen. You can find more and more on the general public market.

Resistive system: Here it is the pressure of the finger that triggers a reaction

Infrared technology: Infrared, horizontal and vertical radiation surrounds the screen. Contact is detected when one of these light beams is interrupted.

There are more than half a dozen different techniques. Some detect 2 fingers, others 4, others 10, up to 50 fingers like Microsoft’s Surface. But not every technology has the same application characteristics, nor the same degree of maturity.

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How to implement the technology?

On the material side, the recent democratization of technology has caused prices to drop considerably. Small capacitive systems are available on the market, such as the Dell Latitude XT2 tablet-PC (13 inches) or the 3M screen (19 inches) at around 2000 Euros. Some manufacturers offer low cost systems below 1000 Euros. To have the high end with the vision-based systems of larger sizes, it will take from 6000 Euros (32 inches) to 20,000 Euros (> 46 inches).

On the software side, even though most software development platforms are starting to support Multi-Touch, it is the only at the start of the journey. A good technician will be able to intervene on a technology like Surface, Windows 7 or Flash. It will take a Bac + 5 Computer Science for an Immersion table. Ideally software development is done by a programmer. Historically these people are either programmers doing design or designers doing programming anyway, the generalization of these technologies has led to the emergence of a new profession: that of interactive designer.