Multitouch MAME cabinet


[rdagger] sent us this really well done multitouch MAME cabinet build. He ha penned to find a used, and fairly worn cocktail cabinet. The monitor was damaged, keys lost, and internals had been home to mice for some time. He promptly tore out the old guts, replaced the smelly mouse damaged base and began building the projection system. For touch sensing, he’s using a web cam with the IR filter removed to detect disturbances in some IR laser beams. We’re not completely clear on how he mounted the lasers, he skips over that part.  There’s nothing groundbreaking in the technology here, we’ve done multitouch many times before. This project stands out in its execution. [rdagger] has done a fantastic job, the construction looks fantastic.  Check out a video of it working after the break.


  1. fractalrock says:

    @caleb: You may need to use this url instead:

    The link you provided didn’t work directly for me, even though that is where it is forwarded to…

  2. Caleb Kraft says:

    Thanks for the heads up. It has been changed.

  3. BlokefromOhio says:

    i may never see the point behind the multi touch thing. i have yet to see it in a real application aside from interactive screen savers, and look at me mess with pictures on the computer like they were on my desk lol… lol… lol… not trying to knock the hack, it looks pretty impressive but i just do not get the allure of the whole multi touch gimmick. maybe i am just not cool enough. other than that way to go rdagger.

  4. jongscx says:

    @blokefromohio- the way I see it, is that Multitouch is just another attempt to create a more efficient UI. With single-point input, mouse, you have position and movement. Adding another point creates orientation and distance. It’s like the difference between ibm and apple mice.

    The 2-button mouse allowed right-clicking whereas the apple mouse required either a menu or a keyboard shortcut. Likewise, the scroll-wheel and the 5-button mice.

    @everyone else.

    What are the lasers for? are they part of the multitouch scheme or are they just there to look cool?

  5. Caleb Kraft says:

    generally for the mutlitouch, you need some way to track the location of your inputs(fingertips). some systems use scattering and discontinuity, by edge lighting a surface and having it deform with pressure, and some use reflectance with IR lights (what I think he’s doing here), and some others use IR light sources (all the wiimote white board versions).

    Basically, your finger is pretty much invisible to the camera until it disturbs the laser beam. At that point it is reflecting the IR light and the camera can pick it up. I’m not sure how he has this one set up, but we’ve seen similar styles in the past.
    Here is a good example:

  6. JBot says:

    “he ha penned”? Heh, n00bs.

  7. cobro says:

    i don’t understand why people still bother with multitouch. its pretty, i’ll give you that. but it’s also just the same thing over and over again. while it’s nice to be able to drag pictures around, essentially mimicking a messy pile of pictures on a table, it’s a tired concept now. until something new and useful comes out of multitouch, i’m panning it as a dead concept.

  8. rdagger says:

    caleb kraft is correct. The table utilizes a technique called Laser Light Plane Illumination:

    Sorry, I know the photo demo is tired but it is only a hello world. There are many academic and commercial applications such as collaboration and instruction on interactive whiteboards, concept mapping and systems where a mouse is not possible and you need more functionality than a single touch screen can provide or multi user input is required. Maybe it is only a niche, but as vendors start releasing more MT monitors, I bet you will see many innovative apps.

  9. Steve says:

    don’t hate on multitouch just cause you don’t have one. I love the multitouch on my iPod touch and would like to have a larger one for my Linux PC. there are many practical applications for this kind of interface: not only does it add new ways to control the UI but without it how do you propose to make multiple adjustments at the same time; something that comes up so often in the pro audio and video world that expensive hardware controllers exist. with a multitouch interface these things could be handled with the base UI just fine without the extra hardware that can cost thousands of dollars.

  10. fucter says:

    it’s not multitouch, but if you guys want cheap touchscreens, search on ebay for kiosks, i picked on up for $909 on ebay, i play touch screen games on it:

  11. fucter says:

    that was supposed to be $90, not $909, sorry

  12. fractalrock says:

    I like the concept of multitouch; I think it definitely has its place. Granted…a small niche, but practical.
    What operating system is he using here? I’m completely at a loss about the software side of things here…did I miss it on his site or is there nothing?
    As for the hardware,the craftsmanship is incredible.

  13. Pouncer says:

    Has no one created a useful multi-touch application yet? Seems like anyone who’s got a multi-touch setup is always playing with a pile of pictures on their desktop.
    impressive use of multi-touch? sure.
    But the day I open my pictures folder and see my images laying in a heap is probably the day I just stop using my computer.

  14. jjrh says:

    Pro audio isn’t really even that great of a app for mt. Hardware controllers are not going to cost you thousands of dollars. If you want to change two things at the same time my 140$ midi keyboard with 8 knobs is fine. Best part is you can feel you are hitting the right knob.

    MT is probably best suited for play. Single touch applications could benefit from MT simply to make the interface more usable(ex, you can rest more of your hand on the screen with out worry that you are hitting something)

    Cool tech for the apple fanyboys.

  15. arthur says:

    I think it’s just a case of the software lagging way behind the hardware. I’ve seen a lot more homebrew MT rigs than are commercially available. It’s no wonder MT is lacking full implementation with professional, intuitive software as it’s relatively rare in manufactured products, and quality/responsiveness varies greatly.

  16. rdagger says:

    tbeta software is being used. It is open source and cross platform:

  17. OPM881 says:

    I dont really see the point in making a multi-touch cocktail mame cab. Hell, i dont see the point in any multi-touch mame cab. You build a mame cab because you want to play arcade games using their original intended controls, not to play around and shit. If you just wanted to play around with multi-touch, why bother with a mame set up!?

  18. rdagger says:

    The point of building the multi touch into a MAME cab is just a matter of recycling. I need an MT table now for software development. Eventually, far superior retail multi touch monitors will be available. When that time comes, I won’t be stuck with a large obsolete MT display. Instead, I will be happy with a fully functional MAME cocktail table. Also the 2 systems share many of the same components such as display, computer, speakers, USB hub, power supply and cabinet. The combined build cost is substantially lower than 2 separate builds.

  19. This is awesome. I finally put the resources together to build this thing. BUT the page with the instructions has 404’d. Anyone have any suggestions on how I can get in touch with him?

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