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Move Over, Microsoft Surface: Multi-Touch Computing on a Budget

Posted in Computers,Just Cool,Software by Joe Colburn on the May 22nd, 2008

After my last post, I’ve been itching to make another video post. Last night, it all just fell in my lap while perusing HackADay.com. A recent post there, “Multitouch project roundup” talks about the many variations of multi-touch devices people are building in response to Microsoft Surface and the technology that preceded it. The problem with surface and some multi-touch implementations is that Surface will undoubtedly be out of your price range and mine and other DIY implementations have appeared daunting and still fairly expensive to pull off. Last night, one implementation, called mtmini, stood out from the crowd as a relatively simple and very inexpensive multi-touch project, so I decided that I just had to try it.

Below is the video, summarizing the creation of the multi-touch interface and some demonstration of it in use. I’m still working on my editing skills and the interface could use some fine-tuning, but I was pleased to have it actually working without a lot of effort. If you want to skip the building and commentary, jump to 3:26 in the video. It is also worth noting that Logitech didn’t have XP drivers for the camera I originally mounted in the box, so I ended up pulling that out and using a WebCam Live instead.

By all means, feel free to link to this post or share, embed, or link to the video on YouTube. Try to make one, yourself using either my method or the original (non-desk) method and post a link to your results here.

About the author

Joe Colburn Joe Colburn is a software engineer specializing in PHP and a technology enthusiast. Always eager to dive into new and exciting things, Joe writes about anything technology related news and products that he thinks you will also be excited about. Find Joe Colburn on Google+ or by any of the links below.

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15 Responses to 'Move Over, Microsoft Surface: Multi-Touch Computing on a Budget'

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  1. Seth Sandler said,

    on May 22nd, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Thanks Joe! Great post/video and I’m glad you liked the MTmini. =)

    If you or any of your readers are interested in projection based systems, they can find examples of (relatively) inexpensive DIY multitouch displays on my blog, as well as the largest multitouch community online: http://www.nuigroup.com

    Thanks again and keep up the great work!

    -Seth

    Seth Sandler’s last blog post..Slowly…


  2. on May 22nd, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks Joe now I know what I am going to be doing tonight! :)

  3. Joe said,

    on May 22nd, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Seth: Thanks. I’m going to be keeping my eyes open for some cheap materials to produce a much more involved example like some of the implementations I’ve seen so far. Also, looking at YouTube, it seems there’s not only more demos to try out, but other cool things happening in this arena for me to check out.

    Karl: Stop back in and let me know how it goes. Better still, write a post about it and drop the link in a comment here so we can see what you did. I’m planning on a home version for my TV computer this weekend. I’ll throw that video on youtube and make another post if I have time to do it.

  4. Tammy said,

    on May 22nd, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    That was really cool!

    Tammy’s last blog post..Some Sunday musings

  5. Adieska said,

    on May 26th, 2008 at 6:42 am

    Great work Joe. You are moving to the top… All of your work was great. I like it

  6. Pseudorant said,

    on May 29th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    I love the fact that two of the main materials used to construct this were a card board box and tape, that is so my style! Nice work man.

  7. Joe said,

    on May 29th, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    Tammy: Thanks… I had a blast putting it together.

    Adieska: Thanks for the compliment. I will hopefully have more projects coming soon.

    Pseudorant: Exactly. Plus, it was super easy to do. I love easy home-brew.

  8. Devon Young said,

    on June 1st, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    Dude, this is just awesome. Makes me start wondering what the future of web design will be like when multi-touch is sold in a package.

    Devon Young’s last blog post..The Insanet

  9. Mr. Javo said,

    on June 4th, 2008 at 4:20 am

    Great stuff Joe, thanks for sharing it with us :)

    Mr. Javo’s last blog post..The Road Of Blogging

  10. Graham said,

    on June 7th, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Very cool. The whole touch multi-touch thing is still kind of an enigma to me. I heard Windows 7 is going to have it though, and that they’re rushing to get it out to cover up the embarassment that is vista. But normal laptop and computer screens can’t become touch screens with just a new Windows OS can they? It’s probably a stupid question..

    Graham’s last blog post..What to do when your Blog is Destroyed & All the Posts are Lost

  11. Joe said,

    on June 7th, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Devon: It’s coming. Multitouch is very cool to play with and I’m sure it’s much cooler when packaged because it’ll be calibrated to be a lot smoother. I can’t wait.

    Mr. Javo: Thanks!

    Graham: I did see something about it coming in MSWin 7 and Apple is working on it, too, I hear. Really, it’s not that hard for them to add it. The cost of the display hardware will go up, but it’s certainly doable. The software alone can’t do it, though. You need the hardware to support the recognition of multiple points of contact.


  12. on December 9th, 2008 at 12:36 am

    […] one night, I saw flames in the distance and happened to have my Flip in my glove box. (old Flip) – Multi-Touch device demo video that I shot not too long after getting my Flip. (old Flip) – Puppies playing (as seen above) (Flip […]

  13. Syed babar shah said,

    on October 9th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    HEy its aweome =)
    look i downloaded CCV but it says about a missing .dll extension. what does that mean?

  14. Joe Tech said,

    on October 9th, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Syed: I don’t know off the top of my head. I did this three years ago. You may have to do some searching on Google.


  15. on June 19th, 2012 at 12:46 am

    […] Surface” sounds familiar, it’s because that’s what they used to call their interactive touchscreen desktop, now known as […]


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