BendDesk Multi-touch Furniture

The BendDesk is a horizontal and a vertical multi-touch display connected as one curved surface. Think of it as a smart white-board and a multi-touch desk all in one. It can be used to sort and edit information, or to play games. Check out “Bend Invaders”, a game demonstrated in the video after the break. When you touch two fingers to the display the two points are used to aim a laser at the oncoming monsters.

The system uses a combination of two projectors shining on the surface from underneath and behind. A series of LEDs around the edges of the display bathe it in infrared light. Three cameras with IR filters peer at the underside of the acrylic surface and detect touches by distinguishing variances in the IR pattern through a process called Frustrated Total Internal Reflection. If you’re interested in more of the math and science involved there are a couple of papers available from the project site linked at the top of this post.

We’ve seen so many displays using the Kinect lately, it’s refreshing to see one that doesn’t.


[Thanks Ferdinand via Flabber (NSFW)]

23 thoughts on “BendDesk Multi-touch Furniture

  1. My employer recently purchased two SmartBoards, plus two SmartTablets. These are commercial SINGLE-TOUCH screens (51″ plasma and 20-something” portable LCD) with a software host program to facilitate writing directly on top of the screen and saving those markups, as well as sharing the screen to client computers via network or the internet. The 51″ screens cost $15,000 each and did not include a computer to run the included software on the provided screen (nor mounting options for the screen). With all these open-source and DIY multi-touch projects, I believe I could have built four multi-touch setups (with computers, projectors, etc) for under $15,000. My boss acted like I was crazy, and told me they paid so much because it had the technical support of the manufacturer. I cant seem to see how they can justify such a purchase while we are in a slow season, and people are being let go. /rant.

  2. very cool layout, it actually looks usable instead of the usual demo-hot-but-otherwise-useless multitouch setups.

    but, i gotta gripe about one thing, of course: i want to see people use more flat panels and fewer projectors. projectors are easy to interface with, but they output tons of heat and just eat up space and power (and expensive projector bulbs). i would never consider using a projector-based multitouch setup at work or home.

  3. Guess I’m missing something here. Why does it need a horizontal surface? Maybe, so we could virtually lose a document by covering it with other papers? Or is there a requirement to have something to spill coffee on?

  4. I’m so over FITR.
    It requires you to have a gigantic box behind the screen and the surfaces generally suck (as in, they have to be foamy or fogged or specially treated). Why am I not seeing any homebrew coupled capacitance or SAW devices? Coupled capacitance you can even buy controllers for from digikey.

    I guess this is a little interesting because of the bend, but that’s about all it has it it’s favor. Perhaps some real innovation or something new and I’d be a little more interested

  5. @Stubaw: yeah, I agree this is kinda old news. Don’t most of us follow slashdot anyway? Also, it has been noted several times that while this setup looks very geeky and scifiish, it’s not very practical. Good build, bad design.

  6. @xeracy I understand your rant completely. So many companies these days never even try to explore options that might save them money in turn saving peoples jobs. Asshats will be asshats.

  7. if it was at my hands, and combined with a tech such “microsoft surface” it was going to have a great future…
    -it may have a desktop computer’s capabilities using a virtual keyboard and trackpad, and a “show/hide” tap button for them.
    -awesome music-making capabilites also… some v/keyboard, tuners, EQs, etc…

    it would be great as an open-source device…
    so, i’m not one of these who ask for one of them as a capprice, but still… i want one!!!

    i’d like to be aware of the updates this device gets, and so, see it grow as a new must-have home PC…

  8. projectors & frosty screens are fast becoming out of date.

    Multitouch flexible OLED please?

    curved surface could make for excellent VST esque things… knobs on the vertical, piano on the flat? … tactile feedback on the piano bit? now that would be cool.

    unfortunately there isnt enough money in the industry for that to be commercially viable…

    i guess you’d need something that everyone could find useful. any suggestions? didn’t think so.


  9. @Pikoro

    well that’s not the idea i got, but it gets close.
    i meant some band-like music editing, where you need to have some bunch of samples at hand, you know, real time editing and stuff.
    do you know Adobe Audition? multitouch capabilities could be added to it to run free of single windowed single pointer mouse limitations.
    do you know that kind of papersheet-speaker-thing? is it multi-sound-you know… thing? the idea could be studied…
    am i too romantic?

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