Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sun Microsystem's JavaOne: Build Your Own Multi-Touch Interface with Java and JavaFX Technology

I just came cross Simon Ritter and Angela Caicedo's "how-to" presentation about building a multi-touch interface utilizing Java and JavaFX technology. The presentation, posted on Sun Microsystem's JavaOne website, provides a review of multi-touch related technology and step-by-step instructions of the process they used, as well as the problems they encountered.

Ritter and Caicedo pointed out that an advantage of using JavaFX technology is that it is good for manipulating images, and it's data binding capabilities makes it easier to design and implement the software and user interface. They also pointed out that Java technology allows for implementing heavy multi-threading, something that is important with so much going on in the application.

Here is the summary from the presentation:

  • Multi-touch screens are simple and cheap to build (Most expensive bit is the projector)
  • Java technology makes the software easy
  • JavaFX technology is easy to integrate with new types of event
  • JavaFX technology makes building multi-touch user interfaces simple

Unfortunately, the application that Ritter and Caicedo developed was very similar to most of what I've seen previously - - image rotation and manipulation.

I am pretty confident that within a year to two years there will be lighter, flatter "all-in-one" flat screen multi-touch panels available that do not rely on projectors, perhaps not much more than the current cost of a projector.

For more information about multi-touch technology, visit the NUI Group website, where you can get tons of information about building your own multi-touch table and support from others with similar interests. Some of the NUI Group members are participating in Google's Summer of Code. Current NUI Group projects are TouchLib, TouchEvent, and OpenTouch.

Also see "Multi-touch Systems that I have Known and Loved", by Bill Buxton, one of the founding fathers of multi-touch.

Another good sources is the list of interactive tables on the Pasta&Vinegar blog. Click (touch!) the links, and you'll find even more information. The Pasta&Vinegar blog is maintained by Nicolas Nova, a user-experience researcher at the LIFTlab think tank.

If you are a graduate student considering research in this area, you'll find plenty to get you going for your review of the literature.

From Tempels Digital Interactive Table (DIT) in Brazil

From Instructables

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