Microsoft shows off "any surface" touch screen in video

In October, Microsoft first talked about its "any surface" touch screen technology that it was creating in its Microsoft Research division. While the technology, called OmniTouch, is still in its infancy, Microsoft has now launched a new video that shows the touch screen projector in action. It also uses a version of Microsoft's Kinect motion gesture device.

In the video, Microsoft's Hrvoje Benko shows how the projector puts up a smartphone-like user interface on a wall which can be activated simply by touching the wall. It replicates familiar smartphone touch screen actions such as sliding to unlock, dialing a phone number and more.

The video also shows that the projector can create a touch screen image that adapts to a smaller surface. In this case, an image is cast on a small notebook which is then used to "draw" on the paper. It is also used to project a map which can be zoomed in and out of by the normal pinching of the fingers.

The OmniTouch technology is being shown as part of TechFest. The event is showcasing other projects from Microsoft Research offices from around the world this week at Microsoft's main headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

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Complete with high tech futuristic looking blue EL wire, nice touch

Its an interesting concept though. will see if anything comes from it if they can make it smaller. I expect that making the kinect smaller would be a big issue

All I can say is that it's a useless idea. Trying to this 20 years ahead when they should be researching stuff a few years ahead.

ACTIONpack said,
All I can say is that it's a useless idea. Trying to this 20 years ahead when they should be researching stuff a few years ahead.

Maybe, but Microsoft's R&D has always had a long lead out time, which is why and how they they have been able to engage when the product is viable and have support for the technology before other realize it is needed.

There are modern and old examples of this that has been why Microsoft 'surprises' the world, yet to them it was something they had envisioned a long time ago and had worked on it 10 prior to it becoming a part of the consumer world.

Examples: New...
Windows Vista's video model has technologies that came from Microsoft R&D in the 90s. This is where the GPU scheduling and virtualization technologies came from and why the OS as for Vista, took over the roll of managing GPU threads, as OSes already did with CPU threads.

This work started during the WinG timeframe and also was a part of the MS Hardware R&D teams that were designing new GPU models to handle this technology. The XBox 360 GPU was when it became important to consumers, and Microsoft was ready for it, and designed the GPU around their 1990s work.

However this work was far too early for consume use, as there wasn't the hardware technology to handle in and 3D gaming was at its infancy let alone users having several 3D games running at the same time and doing GP-GPU features and having the OS juggle the threads, as even NT 4.0/Win2k even with the Vista 'model' would not have been able to handle this complexity and overhead of the GPU management. So pieces of it were implemented, starting with the user mode shader language that was introduced along with the original XBox and brought into further use in the XBox 360, even though most consumers still don't realize why the GPU Microsoft design for it was revolutionary and is why games run well on the XBox 360 even today.

It is alsol something most users do not realize is in Vista, Win7, Win8, but it is essential to a lot of features people use and take for granted. (Seamless Dynamic GPU Switching, preemptive GPU thread multitasking, scheduling, VRAM sharing, visualization, etc.)

It is why the Win7 desktop is smooth, no matter if the use is running Crysis 2 in a Window, or is running Crysis and Crysis 2 at the same time in two different Windows, as the OS is handling the GPU threads, not the game.

It also improves game peformance in how it can write to the buffer and present and use system RAM as VRAM that is transparent to the application and even in some ways the GPU, using the new DMA controller and BUS transfer technologies that Microsoft was 'playing' with back in the 1990s.


Other New examples: Tablets & Metro.

Microsoft started using Metro UI concepts LITERALLY in Windows 1.0, and they had the money to devote time and research into taking traditional print and graphic design technologies and forming them into computer UI constructs. (Streets 98 was a result of the work, and looks a lot like a Metro App in Windows 8 today.)

This also was 'early' for the world. As everyone was still 'showing' off the graphical features and doing 3D looking buttons and gaudy interfaces of lots of colors and 'tricks'.

The early Tablet work that goes back to the 1980s was also too early, as even PenWindows 3.1 had some 'minor' success in hospital and science industries, it was not mature. Even the futher extentions of handwriting and Tablet designs for WinCE in the late 90s and up to TabletPC in 2002, it was 'too expensive' for general consumer devices.

The iPad hit at the right time as 'cheap touch' screens were making an impact and were cheap. (They were not and still are not the 2400dpi digitizer quality screens that TabletPCs had/have, but it was functional enough for consumers and the iPad was a success.)

However, Microsoft has the technology, so they didn't have to 'catch up' to Apple, and they also can offer more than the iPad with handwriting technologies and real digitizer support and bring it together with a UI made for casual reading and what tablet users do.

Thus that investment will pay off with Windows 8, even though it goes back to the 1980s.

A good Old example would be many of the features of Word. Back in 1985 when Word was released for the Mac, there was a 'lot' of R&D features left out of the product as comptuers were not fast enough to handle them. Little things like realtime spellcheck with the squiggle line, Autocorrect,, AutoType, grammar check and many other things that were designed and worked on at Microsoft 7 to 10 years before they were ever a part of Microsoft Word. (And many of which all OSes and Wordpressors use now, even though they didn't exist before Word introduced them to the world.)

There is always a good benefit in thinking outside the near future, the danger is in overshooting and working on a technology that will be made irrelevant.

This is something companies like Lockheed and other do as well, instead of just design airplane and military transport technologies, they are literally using quantum technologies and shoving small matter through teleportation-like devices. Which if they only focused on 'aircraft technologies' when the teleporation technologies because easier and common, it would leave the new aircraft designs worthless.

MSR, as often, comes up with cool stuff that for some reason goes nowhere. While the guy currently looks like a ghostbuster wearing Kinect and other thingamajigs on his shoulder, it could work as a stationary device. Well, except that quality high-res projectors are damn expensive and will keep being so.

cralias said,
MSR, as often, comes up with cool stuff that for some reason goes nowhere. While the guy currently looks like a ghostbuster wearing Kinect and other thingamajigs on his shoulder, it could work as a stationary device. Well, except that quality high-res projectors are damn expensive and will keep being so.

Except you can't block it which is why it makes sense to wear it. You have to looks silly to make it work right.

UndergroundWire said,

Except you can't block it which is why it makes sense to wear it. You have to looks silly to make it work right.

Unless you place it in front of you.

To accurately work with projected images it still requires reasonably flat surfaces, though. Also, perspective correction for angle could be an obstacle.

cralias said,

Unless you place it in front of you.

To accurately work with projected images it still requires reasonably flat surfaces, though. Also, perspective correction for angle could be an obstacle.

Yeah it isn't practical right now with today's technology.