Interactive multi-touch displays point the way to the future

March 11, 2008

We’ve written before on Talkback about new kinds of HMIs which may well change the way we interact with technology in the future. Previously, we’ve blogged about LucidTouch, a system developed jointly by Mitsubishi Electric and Microsoft.  Another very interesting technology being worked on at the moment by Microsoft is called Touchlight. Like LucidTouch, Touchlight acts as a multi-point touch interface allowing sophisticated and intuitive manipulation of on-screen data. However its underlying technology is fundementally different, allowing it to go well beyond what LucidTouch can do. If you’ve ever seen Minority Report, you’ll have a pretty good idea about how this technology can be employed. It’s still early days, but it is – for the want of a better word – a very cool technology.

TouchLight is comprised of an imaging touch screen and holographic projection surface, and uses a stereo pair of video cameras to allow it to interpret gesture-based interaction.[1] Developed by Microsoft Research employee Andrew D. Wilson, Touchlight was first announced in 2005, and since 2006 has been licensed to Eon Reality. [3]

The TouchLight system can both record input from its video cameras and project data simultaneously. Its 3D capabilities allow it to be used as intuitively as a mirror – holding an object like a document close to the screen surface allows a high-resolution image to be captured, which can then be directly manipulated on the same screen. See it in action here  The screen also has a built-in microphone which can detect the user tapping on the surface, thus allowing “click” type interactions through the same interface.

It’s still early days for Touchlight, but some interesting applications have already been mooted, such as in telepresence systems. Virtual meetings which allow delegates to not only see and here each other in psuedo 3D, but swap documents and virtual objects in real time would be just about the coolest technology imaginable. This is one technology that we’ll be following closely.

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New Mitsubishi product range benefits display integrators

February 20, 2008

Mitsubishi Electric has significantly expanded its offering to Systems Integrators with the launch of the brand-new new 3000 series Display Wall sub-system at ISE 2008. The perfect complement to its market-leading range of DLP projection cubes, the new family of modular display wall processors enables integrators to create very sophisticated display systems quickly and easily, without having to worry about compatibility or interfacing issues. Using the new sub-system, commissioning costs and project timescales can be drastically reduced without compromising performance, reliability or sophistication.

The hardware element of the new system consists of the VC-X3000 Display Wall processor and the VC-MK3000 synchronous graphics insertion processor. Both units can be used as standalone processors or in combination to create a powerful hybrid system capable of handling synchronous live video, DVI-I/VGA and data inputs in real time. The processing sub-system is complemented by the new D-Wall software suite, which brings together processing and hardware control into a single integrated environment, and allows extremely sophisticated display systems to be created virtually straight from the box.

The X3000 Display Wall Processor is a high-performance display wall processor designed for demanding control room or large-scale visualisation applications. A standard chassis is capable of routing 48 video inputs and 12 DVI/VGA inputs across 24 different outputs. The system is expandable up to 128 video inputs, 62 DVI/VGA input capture channel and 64 output channels via optional expansion modules. The X3000 can also accept multiple network inputs and is capable of servicing multiple client control stations and applications simultaneously. The D-Wall software provides separate colour-coded mouse cursors that allow up to ten operators to interact with applications on the display wall. Like all Mitsubishi hardware, build quality and reliability are of paramount importance. Based on a Intel™ Xeon dual core processor, the standard chassis comes with 1GB of RAM and 80GB HDD with hot-swappable backup, both of which are expandable. Redundant PSU, fans and RAID disk controller help ensure 24/7 reliability in critical control room applications.

The VC-MK3000 graphics insertion processor provides real-time, synchronous overlay of video and DVI-I/VGA sources and is designed for high-performance applications such as control rooms and C3i facilities. Sync in/out and gen-lock also make it ideal for TV studio applications. 9.6 GB input bandwidth is shared between 32 video or DVI-I inputs, allocated at 0.3 GB per channel. 16 user-configurable outputs provide a flexible combination of overlays and screens. Auxiliary base layer inputs enable additional software applications to share the VC-MK3000 desktop for maximum flexibility. Up to 10 VC-MK3000s can be cascaded together to provide hundreds of input sources.

Mitsubishi’s new D-Wall software suite unifies X3000 and MK3000 processors in a single, powerful control architecture spanning both applications and display hardware. D-Wall allows direct control of display wall settings such as brightness and lamp modes, as well monitoring parameters such as lamp hours. The software automatically warns operators via email should a hardware alert condition arise. Using D-Wall, complex wall layouts can be created easily by simply dragging and dropping inputs from whichever X3000 and MK3000 processors are attached to the system – either singly or in combination. Layouts can then be saved for instant recall. This intuitive software environment significantly speeds-up the commissioning process by making the physical integration of different sources completely transparent to the operator. The unified software environment also allows total flexibility to upgrade or modify the physical layer to meet future demands on the system. D-Wall can be used with a standard touch panel control to simplify the operation of complex display wall systems and reduce the chances of operator error. D-Wall can also respond to system events by switching to pre-programmed display layouts which automatically give prominence to the window generating the alert message, thereby reducing the risk of an alert going unnoticed.

Mitsubishi Electric’s new display wall sub-system underlines the company’s commitment to System Integrators. With the launch of this significant new range of products, Mitsubishi continues to place the highly-valued relationships it enjoys with its Systems Integrator partners at the heart of its strategy for professional display products.