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Touching the Screen March 22, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Hardware, Online Tools.

ftir   The other day I used a self-serve cash register to purchase some items from a grocery store. It was not my regular store so I thought I would take a few minutes to try the machines out. This may be a humdrum situation for many people, but I do not do that much shopping so it was still a fun new experience for me. You can ask how I have avoided shopping but the answer is simple. I am married to a bargain-hunting shopper who delights in being able to get the best value for her dollar. Secondly, since I have so few material wants or hobbies I have lost that materialistic edge. As a result, I just do not get into stores very often. 

The touch screen technology available at the grocery store and the building supplies store are simple enough, but today I viewed an online presentation of a new touch screen system that promises a vision of the future as far as this technology and computer technology can go. Look at this brief movie at http://mrl.nyu.edu/~jhan/ftirtouch/ and then find out more about it. 

The developers call it the frustrated total internal reflection (FTIR) technique. It acquires true touch information at high spatial and temporal resolutions, and is scalable to very large installations, according to their web site. 

The potential for visualizing and manipulating complicated data sets is impressive. Will these be coming soon to a classroom near you? I doubt that. However, there are so many potential applications to learning that I can certainly see these appearing at science museums in the near future. I wonder if that is the natural migratory path for these innovations. Perhaps they travel from research lab to science museum then on to university then library then schools then home. I will have to investigate a little more.



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