DIY Multi-Touch All the Surfaces

Ever wanted to build a touch table or other touch-input project, but got stuck figuring out the ‘touch’ part? [Jean Perardel] has your back with his multi-touch frame over on IO that makes any surface touch-reactive. In [Jean]’s case, that surface is ultimately a TV inside of a table.

Of course, it’s a bit of a misnomer to say the surface itself becomes touch-reactive. What’s really happening here is that [Jean] is using light triangulation to detect shadows and determine the coordinates of the shadow-casting object. Many barcode scanners and consumer-level document scanners use a contact image sensor (CIS) to detect objects in the path of IR LEDs. These are a low-power, lower-resolution alternative to the CCDs found in high-grade scanners.

As [Jean] explains in the video below, an object placed in the path of a single IR LED facing a sensor array of either type will block the light from reaching the sensors. Keep adding LEDs and their emission angles will begin to overlap, increasing the detection precision. [Jean] reverse engineered a couple of different types of scanners until he found a suitable one. He ended up with CIS that has 2700 light sensors lined up in the space of 20cm (7.87″).

[Jean] designed a 3D-printable frame to hold 96 IR LEDs in stacks of three. A Teensy turns on the LEDs, detects the touch event, calculates the position, and sends those coordinates to a Pi to be displayed on the screen. He eventually went wireless and then built a nice looking touch table to house a 32″ TV.

This is not the only way to build a multi-touch table, nor is it the simplest. Here’s one that uses finger presses to scatter light and an industrial strength projection-based table that was open-sourced a few years ago.

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Easy Multi-Touch Table

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 1.53.13 PM

[2bigbros] put up an Instructable on his multi-touch table build. It’s a nice setup, using the typical frustrated total internal reflection method for touch sensing. Tinkerman’s Method was used for the screen itself, which involves rolling silicon onto vellum with a paint roller to improve the bond. [2bigbros] then built a nice aluminum and wooden frame for the whole thing. He’s light on some details, but most people with a basic understanding and Google will be able to figure it out.

This is a very accessible project for most builders. If you’re interested in getting into it, there are plenty of projects to reference. We previously covered the basics, as well as a more involved build. We’ve even seen an interactive tower defense game using multi-touch. If you decide to build one of your own, don’t forget the excellent resource at TUIO for finding frameworks and example implementations.

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Running Android on large touch screen displays

32_inch_android_touch_screen_display

Forget Microsoft Surface, what do you think about having a 32-inch Android-powered touchscreen display in your living room? That possibility might not be too far off, thanks to the engineers over at SKR Technology in Japan.

Primarily a company that designs and builds digital signage, they were approached by several customers who wanted a large screen device that had multi-touch functionality similar to a smartphone. Since they frequently work with Windows, they tried building a solution around Windows 7, but it just didn’t function as smoothly as they would like. Instead they turned towards Android, but were disappointed to find out that none of their suppliers supported the OS.

Instead of scrapping the project, they build their own interface that allows an Android-powered device to interact with multi-touch displays. As you can see in the video embedded below the display works quite well, mirroring everything on the Android device’s screen.

While the product is not yet available commercially, we should see it come to market later this year. We hope to see an open source version sometime in the future as well, even if we can’t quite afford a 32” touch panel display.

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Flexi Knobs

These boxes, called Flexi Knobs, work like a wireless Atari paddle and mouse rolled into one. Each has a rotary encoder that can also be clicked like a button. On the inside is a wireless optical mouse which controls an on-screen cursor which matches the color of the knob. In the video after the break you can see these are being used as midi controls. Each cursor can be locked onto a virtual knob, giving it a physical interface. Because there are several units being used on one machine this creates something of an abstract multi-touch system. This would make a nice interface for other applications with a plethora of settings, like Blender.

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Saturday afternoon robot cooking

What happens when you combine an IR tracking PS3 Eyetoy, and a high-resolution projector? If you answered multi-touch display, you’re on the right track. Add a Wii Nunchuck controlled robot, a pinch of Community Core Vision tracking software combined with Processing, and the piece de resistance, a modified Memo TUIO particle system and you get the mesmerizing video above.

Check out this combination of crazy robotics and more with SparkFun’s free robot hobby builders meet-up on Saturday.

[Thanks Anon]

10gui: multi-touch for all ten digits

10gui-multitouch-for-10-digits

The race for the next revolutionary input design is an ongoing event. [Clayton Miller’s] newest offering in the contest is a multitouch concept that separates the display from the screen and is meant to utilize all fingers. His video explanation includes a description of the physical input device, a software implementation, and a demonstration of how a finished system will work. After the break we’ll look at the hardware, the software, and the concept video. Continue reading “10gui: multi-touch for all ten digits”

Five concept mice add multi-touch control

Microsoft is showing off five concepts for added mouse functionality. All of them seek to replace traditional move-and-click with touch sensitivity through either capacitive sensing, video recognition, sensor articulation, or laser scanning. We’re excited about the prospects of some of these features but at the same time wonder what this does to the price of this much-abused peripheral. After the break we’ll touch on each of the devices, along with time references for the video embedded above. Continue reading “Five concept mice add multi-touch control”