CNN Goes Multitouch

We’ve been noting more and more signals that multitouch screens are catching on beyond the iPhone and iPod Touch. We’ve recently seen a hint from Microsoft and a Walt Mossberg overview in the Wall Street Journal. And there’s a high-profile one going on right now.

CNN is reporting on the unfolding Super Tuesday presidential primary results and on-air personalities are using, in addition to standard graphics, large Jeff Han-invented Multitouch Collaboration Walls to interact with real-time voting data. The visualizations aren’t necessary useful (pie charts based on 3% of precincts reporting are stupid), but the screens are being used to make data come alive.

“It’s a stupendous way to explain a lot of complicated data,” David Bohrman, chief producer of CNN’s political coverage, told the Wasington Post today. “Fundamentally, our job is to explain things to people, and we need to do it visually. This lets us do it naturally, without a keyboard or mouse getting in the way.”

It’s way too early to predict that multitouch will supplant point-and-click the same way point-and-click made most text-only interfaces obsolete, but tonight signals how much traction multitouch is getting already.

For more Radar insights on multitouch, see Tim O’Reilly’s pinpointing what the Kindle is missing and Nat Torkington’s report on Jeff Han’s talk at ETech 2006.