Feb 21

Nat Torkington

Nat Torkington

Multitouch and Minority Report

I'm amazed at how quickly multitouch has spread into the mainsream. In 2006, Jeff Han demoed multitouch at ETech and we all thought "wow! Minority Report come true!". Just two years later, his company was powering multitouch analysis of Super Tuesday and companies like Microsoft and Apple have consumer multitouch products. PlayMotion and GestureTek have gestural interfaces companies can buy if they want to build their own impressive multitouch displays, and there's a tutorial by an Adaptive Path guru on designing gestural interfaces at ETech (oh, and Google tells me he's also writing a book for us :-).

Minority Report was only released in 2002. John Underkoffler, the science and technology advisor for that movie, did a bloody good job of showing us what the world would be like. I found an interview with Underkoffler in Salon, from 2002, where he explains that all his work was based on actual research going on at MIT. He went on to build a data glove (see the video) and got funding from Foundry Group for his still-stealthy Oblong Industries to commercialize the glove.

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Comments: 7

  Vincent John Vincent [02.22.08 05:32 PM]


I'm glad to see your interest in multitouch tables and gestural interfaces. You may be suprised to know that GestureTek is the inventor and pioneer of video camera based gestural control technologies, and has been doing this for over 20 years. We have thousands of installations of this technology around the world, and long before the Minority Report movie came out, and Jeff Han showed his interface technology (great stuff), GestureTek has been using its robust library of technologies and patents, for video gesture control, using single, dual and 3D depth cameras, to deliver interactive displays of any size, that allow for point and control, from any distance ( without having to wear, touch, or hold anything), as well as multitouch tables and surfaces of all kinds.................check out for a video that shows these applications.....



  Luis Alejandro Masanti [02.22.08 06:25 PM]

"...companies like Microsoft and Apple have consumer multitouch products..."

Well... Microsoft "announced" a product and a date of release that they failed to make!

  Nat Torkington [02.23.08 01:26 AM]

Hi, Vincent. Thanks for the note. Sorry for failing to state GestureTek's long role in the industry. I'm looking forward to seeing your mobile gestural interface in person, it looks very interesting. The question, I guess, is whether it's only relevant for games like the Wii or whether it can be turned into a serious UI.

I'd love to see what it was like to use my mobile phone as a gestural controller for my laptop or desktop computer. That is, have the phone control scrolling, etc, for the laptop.

  gnat [02.23.08 02:56 AM]

@Luis: good point! It would be uncharitable to describe it as announcement-ware designed to ensure stock price didn't fall as the success of the iPhone was being reported on. I'm sure Microsoft stockholders will all be glad to see it launch, whenever that day arrives. It's bound to be soon.

  koomi [02.24.08 01:17 PM]

check out - community driven multitouch projects, including their own software library and extensive tutorials and how-to's on how to build those tables.

  Suebo [03.24.08 05:11 PM]

Hello Vincent,

do you know how far GestureTeks patents (see below) overlap e.g. with Jeff Han's Multitouch projects, Nuigroup or JMyron?

I am really curious if there is Patent infringement issues.

But I also wonder how GestureTek got these patents in the first place since these CV techniques existed long before 1991.


  Cy Starkman [01.28.09 04:48 PM]


Yet Jeff Han and Minority Report before him were just aping Japanese animation from the early 80's.

Such as Robotech, where they actually have floating projected, handheld and desktop multi-touch screens.

Which in turn was aping us apes who have multi touch hands.

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