Saturday, August 22, 2009

Wouldn't it be cool if you had a gigantic multi-touch computer screen (like the iPhone)? Well, we made one for our 4th year design project. The screen measures 48" diagonally, a nice size for a workspace or for multi-player games. Here's a video of our table in action, running on Windows 7.



How does it work? We used a physics phenomenon called frustrated total internal reflection. If you shine light into the side of a sheet of acrylic (Plexiglas), the light will be trapped inside due to total internal reflection (gr 12 physics). Now when you touch the surface, it "frustrates" the light at that spot and so light escapes. You use a camera to capture this image and figure out where the finger was pressed. You can see a picture of what our camera captures when a hand touches the table:



Clarification: The team consists of myself and 3 male classmates. Nonetheless, 25% is still several times higher than the percentage of female students in my class.

81 comments:

  1. I LOVE it! That is significantly cooler than our window. Is this project mostly done with the hardware and then software to make it work, or are you designing some applications to take advantage of this functionality?

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  2. Looks cool.
    What sort of cost will be involved if this technology made available to masses? Can it survive in competition with Microsoft?
    Did you use acrylic sheet on top of existing LCD screen?

    Vinnie

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  3. We used a projector in our table (so did Microsoft). The cost of the table, excluding the projector and the computer, is only a few hundred dollars. The projector and the computer will add another $800 - $3000, depending on performance requirements.
    I'm not sure why Microsoft sells their Surface for over $10k. I actually had a chance to try it today and honestly I prefer our table - dragging on the Microsoft Surface hurt my fingers.

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  4. when will this show up on make? you're basically putting a cam next to the projector and detecting the bleed through (frustration) right?

    oh and great job!

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