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More Touchscreen Research: Microsoft TouchLight

Microsoft has their own multipoint touchscreen reseach research prototype, the TouchLight. Now don't get too attached to the name, before you know it they'll re-name it "Microsoft Windows Powered Smart Touch Screen Professional Edition". Anyways, the TouchLight uses multiple cameras to dertimine hand and touch location. By tracking hand movement they plan to be able to detect 3D gestures to control the image on the screen. The TouchLight is also able to digitally capture documents that are pressed against the screen by snapping a picture of it with one of the cameras. Microsoft has partnered with a company called EON and is saying we'll see this by the end of the year. Ok, sure! Still a neat prototype, and further evidence that in the future all screens will be touchscreens...

TouchLight Video (YouTube.com) via SlashGear.com
TouchLight Demo with Andy Wilson (channel9.msdn.com)
Microsoft's TouchLight makes 3D hands-on (CNET Videos)
EON Touchlight Video (YouTube.com)

Hey do you remember "Microsoft Mira?" No. What about "She Spies?"


Before there were even rumors of an Apple tablet, Microsoft had already unveiled their ill-fated Mira concept. Microsoft, in a stunning branding move, renamed the friendly sounding "Mira" to "Windows Powered Smart Display," good one guys. Anyways, a Windows Powered Smart display is a tablet display that wirelessly connects to a host Windows PC, allowing the user to access the computer from anywhere in the house, up to about 100 feet away. The idea seemed good enough, as ideally the Smart Display would be cheaper than a laptop, offer many of the same functionality without having to upkeep another computer. However, the execution was so abysmal that it never stood a chance.

Read on for more about why Mira failed.

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Apple’s Touchscreen Ambitions

About a week ago I wrote about Jeff Han’s awesome multipoint touchscreen, and questioned if Apple was working on anything like this. Well, it turns out the answer is a resounding “Yes.” Going as far back as 2004, Apple submitted patent applications for a multipoint touchscreen, gestures for a multipoint touchscreen (including the “pinch” gesture), and other important touchscreen related stuff. So, yeah…pretty sweet…

Read on for a summary of Apple’s more interesting patent application with lots of help from hrmph.com.

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They should do that Ideawatch: Touchscreens

Given my current fascination with touchscreen displays and the idea that they may one day replace our current keyboard-mouse-monitor arrangement, I'm writing to announce that there will be a lot more posts about touchscreens, tablets and the like over the next week or so. Right now, I'm beginning to think that in the future we'll call multi-point, pressure sensitive, touchscreen displays, just plain old "displays."

It’s Alive! High Resolution PowerBook Created?!


Well it looks like I’m not the only person eager for Apple to release high resolution laptops. BaxterBrittle, so totally fed up with waiting for Apple, has taken matters into his own hands. He has successfully retrofitted his Aluminum 1GHz PowerBook with a 15.4” WUXGA display (that’s 1920 x 1200 resolution). To accommodate the 15.4” screen, the display enclosure from a MacBook Pro was used as the original PowerBook enclosure can only handle a 15.2” display. Reportedly the laptop does close and latch properly, but the display does overhang a bit. The combination of mismatched parts, and overall beastieness, has prompted the laptop to be dubbed “Frankenbook.”

Thorough instructions have not yet been posted, and the mod hasn’t been successfully completed on a MacBook Pro. If I were BaxterBrittle, I’d offer to retrofit anyone’s PowerBook for $100 plus the price of the new display.

MacRumors discussion thread (via Gizmodo)

Jeff Han's Multiple Touch Point Display, the stuff dreams are made of

For anyone who let out a resounding “Meh” after reading my Apple Table entry, check out this video. The video shows Jeff Han of New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences demonstrating a large touch screen display that is pressure sensitive and can accept multiple touch points simultaneously. This enables multiple fingers (or people!) to interact with the display at once. While some of the examples are a bit silly, they still start to expose the power of the interface. I wonder if Apple has something like this on some workbench somewhere? Even if they do, they should still snatch Jeff up before someone else does, this thing is impressive.

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Word Prediction in Microsoft Word


In 6th grade, I had to write a biography on a historical figure, so I chose Albert Einstein. Over the course of writing the paper I had to type words like “Einstein,” “Relativity,” “Berlin,” “Elsa” scores of times, and words like “Bohr” and “Quantum” several times. Even today, any lengthy document I write usually requires that I use a handful of nouns over and over again. Which makes me wonder (as I did in 6th grade) why doesn’t Word automatically detect repeated words and attempt to complete words as I begin to type? Excel has done this for years, so why not Word?

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Dude, where's my Apple Tablet PC?


Since playing with my friend’s Nintendo DS Lite, I’ve been totally convinced that touch screen displays will be the next major disruption to computer user interfaces. I was shocked not only by how fun and rewarding the games were but how the touch screen opened up so many possibilities for game play. I found myself instantly wanting a touch screen experience for my computer that offered the same level of creative thinking about the interface. Which led to one invariable conclusion, Apple needs to release a tablet based computer, and not one of these dinky UMPCs, I’m talking about a real computer.

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New from Whole Foods, Smaller Stores!


Even though supermarket chains have mostly eliminated small grocers from neighborhoods, they can’t eliminate the need for them. Whole Foods should really borrow a page from Apple’s playbook and open Whole Foods mini-stores in neighborhoods and dense urban areas. A small neighborhood Whole Foods could be the perfect place for basics (milk and soy milk, eggs, O.J.), a pre-made sandwich, some produce, cheese, wine, perhaps a small meat or fish counter, and, of course, fresh bread and pastries.

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