New Jeff Han Video of their Multi-Touch Display


New Jeff Han Video – Multi Touch UI | The Last Minute Blog

It’s looking pretty good. I was a little saddened to see them resorting to menus and hotspots, though it was probably inevitable. The magic of the early MT demos was that you could simply touch the screen and the computer would have enough information from your fingers to know what you meant to do — move vs. zoom vs. rotate, for example. The holy grail of GUI design is a completely mode-less system, where you don’t need to be in "edit" mode vs. "drag" mode and the number of tools is minimal. But now that they’re doing much more complicated tasks, like windowing and overlaying data, the controls get more complicated too.

Ultimately, the big question for Multi-Touch wall-screens like this is more ergonomics than aesthetics. In a vertical mode, are you comfortable waving your arms, unsupported, for hours at a time. The demos they do certainly look tiring with all that arm waving. In a desk-mode, it would be easier, but then our elbows might be resting on the screen, which needs to be addressed. And, as Han says, 3D is hard. And 3D, to me, is the way to go.

Personally, I think the 3D analog to Multi-Touch is the future, where Multi-Touch may merely extend the life of the 2D "windows and icons" metaphor until that arrives. In true a 3D desktop (not to be confused with Vista, Aqua, or any of the Linux 3D-window-dressing UIs), you can simply grab objects with one or both hands, manipulate them, activate them, and use them as tools. The "modes" for a scissor object are pretty simple: if the scissor is closed, it can push things. If it’s open, it can cut them.

That’s not to say I don’t want Multi-Touch yesterday. I just ordered one of those Lenovo X60 tablet/laptops to try out.

[Update: I got the new laptop today. Though the pen interface is very nice, their claim of "MultiTouch" is highly deceptive — you can’t properly register touches in two or more places at the same time, as with any other "MultiTouch" device (iPhone, Han’s stuff, etc..). So you can use your index finger, or your thumb, but not both, which means I’m now using my middle finger. Price-wise, this alleged feature didn’t add too much, so that alone isn’t a deal killer. It’s a decent computer otherwise. But for some reason, getting this magic ‘MultiTouch’ feature required going with low XGA vs. better SXGA+ screen resolution, which is quite irritating in hindsight. That’s what I get for getting excited about technology. Update2: Because I know you’re all on the edge of your seat over this, I do give Lenovo points for accepting my return without the usual 15% restocking fee. So I may consider one of their non-multi-touch laptops in the future.]

  1. #1 by Duncan on March 28, 2007 - 12:00 pm

    thx for the link!

  2. #2 by willpower102 on May 16, 2007 - 12:54 pm

    Somehow with all your experience you even considered the idea that this almost infantile multitouch technology was in the lenovo. Multitouch in tablets describes the ability to use both a passive and active digitizer, eg. you don’t have to pull the pen out to quickly navigate some menus. It is a fantastic next step in laptop development.

  3. #3 by avi on May 16, 2007 - 1:12 pm

    Multi-touch, in the context of using your fingers on a display, means you can use more than one. And in fact, you can’t even use the pen and a finger at the same time on that system — you can use one OR the other — so there’s nothing "multi" about it. They might as well claim you could use your whole hand, but only one finger at a time.
    It’s misleading.

    Now, you can argue that the better term of art for using multiple fingers simultaneously would be "poly-touch," but I think that’s a tough sell. The "touch" part of "multi-touch" implies fingers, not pens. Otherwise, Lenovo’s system might better called "multi-instrument" or maybe "write-n-touch" (which should still say ‘or’).

  4. #4 by etjazz on June 17, 2008 - 1:18 am

    Hi, maybe a miss-implemented feature in windows driver problem? I’m looking for a datasheet of the lenovo multitouch technology but I can’t find it anywhere.

  5. #5 by DRTigerlilly on July 20, 2008 - 9:19 pm

    Lenovo has been using the mulittouch name from their x60 model & it meant as the previous poster mentioned, pen or finger use.

    The x60 was out in 2006, apple released the iphone in 2007…

  6. #6 by avi on July 21, 2008 - 7:25 am

    “The x60 was out in 2006, apple released the iphone in 2007…”

    You must be under the mistaken impression that Apple invented multi-touch. It did not. I’ll just re-state that the term multi-touch is deceptive if it doesn’t mean you can touch the screen with more than one finger or device at a time.

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