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Linux MPX Multi-touch Alternative to MS Surface

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the touch-me-there-no-lower-no-a-little-lower dept.

Input Devices 182

An anonymous reader writes "Gizmodo has published an article (with video) on the Linux-based free alternative to MS Surface along with a quite interesting interview with its creator, Peter Hutterer. "It may not be as fancy-schmancy as Microsoft Surface or Jeff Han's demos but this video of a Linux-based MPX multi-touch table shows that things are moving full speed ahead in the land of the free penguins. We talked with developer Peter Hutterer, who gave us his insight on the project, the iPhone and the ongoing multi-touch craze." He talks about Jeff Han's work, MS Surface and defines the iPhone as "not the first in what it's doing, but definitely a huge impact" in the field."

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MultiMeh... (4, Funny)

pohl (872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876435)

Meh. All this multitouch hype is such a fad. Sure, it's great eye candy, but it's totally impractical. Do you really think that shit is going to scale down to the size of a phone!? Oh, wait...

Re:MultiMeh... (4, Interesting)

pasamio (737659) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876517)

To be honest I use the multitouch trackpad on my Macbookpro all of the time. Two finger tap for right click, two finger drag for scrolling with the usual single finger tap for left click and single finger drag for normal drag. Multitouch in a small sense is something that I miss when I go to another laptop because I instinctively two finger tap trackpads to try to right click. No need to scroll in a special part of the track pad, no need to press a special part for left and right click. Just the gesture anywhere on the trackpad. Thats multitouch for me in action and working.

Re:MultiMeh... (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877565)

To be honest I use the multitouch trackpad on my Macbookpro all of the time. Two finger tap for right click, two finger drag for scrolling with the usual single finger tap for left click and single finger drag for normal drag. Multitouch in a small sense is something that I miss when I go to another laptop because I instinctively two finger tap trackpads to try to right click. No need to scroll in a special part of the track pad, no need to press a special part for left and right click. Just the gesture anywhere on the trackpad. Thats multitouch for me in action and working.
I do the same thing in KDE 3.5.7, but I have my two-finger-tap set for a middle click. I use the bottom and right side of the trackpad for scrolling.

Re:MultiMeh... (0, Offtopic)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878517)

This poster is a liar. Everyone knows that Macs can't right click!

Re:MultiMeh... (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878541)

This isn't even remotely close to what M$ is doing. This is a crappy interface.
And I don't even like M$

Bah! (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876563)

Fingers, schmingers. What I want to know, is when those Linux guys will come up with a table that can read Hollerith cards.

-jcr

Re:MultiMeh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876675)

Meh. All this multitouch hype is such a fad. Sure, it's great eye candy, but it's totally impractical.
Two words: "Multitouch Pornography".

Re:MultiMeh... (1)

pohl (872) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876699)

Two words: "Multitouch Pornography".

Yeah, right...only if you're lucky enough to have been born with three hands.

Re:MultiMeh... (1)

michrech (468134) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877583)

Two words: "Multitouch Pornography".


Yeah, right...only if you're lucky enough to have been born with three hands.

How about three feet?

(I'll give 'ya a few minutes for that one to hit 'ya...)

Re:MultiMeh... (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877587)

What does the iPhone do with multitouch again? Oh yeah, virtually nothing.

Re:MultiMeh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19878929)

But LOOK! It scrolls!

Re:MultiMeh... (2, Insightful)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878687)

Multitouch is a lot more than you may at first think. This video [youtube.com] has a really good demonstration of how this can revolutionize the user interface.
Multitouch is not about dragging around multiple legacy apps at the same time; that is just to keep supporting old software in a seamless matter. What MPX does is it provides an interface which integrates the physical world and a computer far more seamlessly than is possible with a mouse and keyboard.
That is going to be the big push in IT for some time now, I believe: the effort to move computers more into mainstream, everyday life by realistically connecting them with it.

With a keyboard and mouse we are being very limited by the rules of the computer right from the start, and these rules are very different from the rules that we, as humans, are used to interacting with. In the computer world, we have a single hand with a single finger and language consists of a hell of a lot of buttons. Compared to the real world, this is dog slow and unintuitive.

With a multitouch interface, the rules are our own. We can communicate using any object of the real world, limited by our own limbs instead of the computer's limbs. Sure, it's still a two dimensional flat panel that we're talking to, but it is a significant step forward for computer interfaces. Thanks to how much information can be gathered completely transparently by a multitouch setup, software to support multitouch will be very future proof and forward thinking, making far fewer assumptions than the "poking with a stick" interface we have become used to, making things much easier for when that ultimate interface (full 3D input and output) finally does roll along.

It may look pointless now, but then, so did the mouse!

"schmancy"? well la-di-da (5, Insightful)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876441)

It may not be as fancy-schmancy as Microsoft Surface

I love how the community words stuff, sounds like a child being envious of big brother syndrome. I don't consider Microsoft offerings superior to others, just pointing out the wording and what is sounds like. I hear that kind of stuff way too often. Linux should be comfortable in what it is and not feel the need to compare.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (4, Funny)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876601)

I love how the community words stuff, sounds like a child being envious of big brother syndrome. I don't consider Microsoft offerings superior to others...
So would I be correct in assuming you're saying: "Microsoft Shmicrosoft?"

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876737)

nah, that'd be community-schommunity ;)

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1, Interesting)

doombringerltx (1109389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876683)

Gizmodo defiantly does not represent the community. Once I saw them call themselves the slashdot for people who actually have touched a woman or something like that. It's basically a "oohhh shiny gadget" blog. I wouldn't be surprised if I saw a post about "this sick new phone, brah" or about "a totally kickin' HDTV." That blog is seriously mind numbing and the last place I'd go for linux news.

That being said I agree that linux should accept what it is. You can argue all you want about better or worse than windows, but its just a different animal and both serve their purpose. I dual boot and both OS's have their draw for me. I end up spending more time using linux and like it a lot more, but you won't catch me going linux only anytime soon.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

trb (8509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876827)

Gizmodo defiantly does not represent the community. Once I saw them call themselves the slashdot for people who actually have touched a woman or something like that.
I guess that explains their enthusiasm about being able to use more than one finger at a time.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (4, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876973)

Once I saw them call themselves the slashdot for people who actually have touched a woman or something like that.

Sure, until now. But with vi running on my coffee table, things are going to change around here!

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876713)

Linux should be comfortable in what it is and not feel the need to compare.

Linux isn't comfortable or not as it's an OS but I disagree with your assertion that the community should be comfortable with the state the OS is in as it's no where near good enough to compete with more polished systems.

Until the day that Linux is just as easy to use as Windows/OS X and the professional application base is the same, the community will need to continue the push towards greatness. While that day may never come, I can never imagine that everyone should just sit back and agree with your suggestion.

That said, the comment was immature and should have had some more thought put behind the ramifications of it.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877289)

The year 2000 called it wants its slashdot post back..

Linux isn't comfortable or not as it's an OS
Linux is NOT an Operating System it is a Kernel. An operating system is Gentoo, Red Hat, etc..

Until the day that Linux is just as easy to use as Windows/OS X and the professional application base is the same, the community will need to continue the push towards greatness.
Just because your personal opinion is that Windows or OSX is "better" doesn't make it true. Just as the opposite is true but based on your lack of even basic information on the subject I can't take anything you say seriously.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

colourmyeyes (1028804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877469)

Just because your personal opinion is that Windows or OSX is "better" doesn't make it true.
Actually, it does. You must have missed the memo.

I'm glad this is cleared up now.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (3, Informative)

nagora (177841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877531)

Linux is NOT an Operating System it is a Kernel. An operating system is Gentoo, Red Hat, etc..

An operating system controls access to the hardware. Linux is an example.

Gentoo, Red Hat etc are application suites. Bash is not part of an operating system, it is an application, just like Inkscape or Word, or Emacs

TWW

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876755)

Besides the fact that the "fancy-schmancy" MS Surface looked a lot more functional than this MPX thing. Although the MPX demo was probably in an early stage with a normal PC.
The MPX vides just didn't seem to track the motion as well as the MS Surface video demonstrated. If "fancy-schmancy" means "more responsive", then give me fancy-schmancy any day.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876781)

He's simply pointing out that Microsoft Surface appears much more polished. I think saying "polished" would have sounded more... professional. But remember Gizmodo's audience is far wider than the Linux community and I don't think people consider them to be so much a part of the Linux community (as in speaking for it).

Even without comparison to Microsoft there are various things that don't appear polished with this MPX and Linux in general. While I do agree it's often taken too far, I think some level of comparison is healthy as it brings various things to light.

Re:"schmancy"? well la-di-da (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876795)

I read that as

fancy-schmancy == Ready for the public.

sorry, but thats the first thought I had...

blacks ftw (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876455)

we have your women. soon we will have the white house.

it's our time now.

blacks ftfw.

Hardware (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876471)

I have been looking at MPX since hearing about the iphone and Surface. But where is the hardware to be able to use it?

Re:Hardware (1)

ch0ad (1127549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876815)

according to the article you can just use multiple mice on a normal computer... so you don't really need any fancy hardware at all

Re:Hardware (1)

zero_offset (200586) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877661)

Moving two mice in a way that accomplishes something useful sounds tricky at best. Moving three or more sounds impossible unless your physical makeup is sporting some fancy hardware of its own...

Software! (4, Interesting)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876841)

You know, Microsoft didn't invent this multi-touch stuff, and neither did Apple. Its been around as research projects for years. So why is the MS version such a big deal?

Software!

See, the real hard part about all this is the fact that you need to come up with a completely new set of UI conventions and implement a completely new set of applications in order to make it a useable product. Until now with MS, nobody's done that.

From the article, this MPX thing seems to consist of nothing more than a modified X server, running "normal" (i.e., designed for a single cursor) applications. Therefore, it is not nearly as impressive as the MS Surface.

Re:Software! (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877195)

From the article, this MPX thing seems to consist of nothing more than a modified X server, running "normal" (i.e., designed for a single cursor) applications. Therefore, it is not nearly as impressive as the MS Surface.

Forget "impressive" - let's talk "practical". (warning: impending car analogy...)

One of these two I might or might not see in the indeterminate future; sort of like looking at a "concept car". The other I can likely put to use right now, with only the matter of getting my mitts on the right parts to do it; sort of like looking at a "custom car".

One of these two uses parts that haven't been invented yet, and may or may not even work. The other uses common parts that anyone can put to use.

/P

Re:Software! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877889)

except that this implementation of "mult-touch" uses standard hardware on the market...attached to Open source X server that he had already modified to handle extra keyboards an mice in one application space. He just built "one more piece" to make fingers work. I believe he has emulated what the other guys do quite nicely with standard components...and obviously no access to the software or hardware used by the other guys.. that is more interesting. Open source apps can be converted relatively easily to adjust to new paradigms. Closed source can't.

Re:Software! (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877705)

From the article, this MPX thing seems to consist of nothing more than a modified X server, running "normal" (i.e., designed for a single cursor) applications. Therefore, it is not nearly as impressive as the MS Surface.
Actually if you read more into the technology, MPX provide multi-touch and multi-input information to any application that wants to make use of it, but it also provides the standard single-input interface that most existing apps expect. So you get the best of both worlds, backwards compatibility with all of your existing software, plus all the new software that is going to take advantage of multi-input/multi-touch technology.

Re:Hardware (2, Informative)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878633)

Check out NUI Group [nuigroup.com] for a good place to start. There are lots of DIY tutorials for building multitouch tables, and the community there is excellent.

Microsoft Surface uses Diffused Illumination, which is so far the easiest and most effective way to do these.

The iPhone uses a capacitive touch screen to do its magic. Slightly less fun since is not an easy do-it-yourself thing and it costs significantly more money the bigger your screen gets...

Surface and other (big) multitouch tables tend to use "optical touchscreens", which are actually ingeniously simple, and fantastically cheap!
The diffused illumination design uses infrared light (what would we do without it?). Simply a webcam with a filter to see only infrared and a few IR lamps shining out of the table (into the operator's hand or really whatever else is on the table). The reflected light is of course seen by the camera.
The real magic happens with the composition of the table's surface. This surface must diffuse the IR light so that objects far from the surface are not being picked up as touches. (Conveniently, though, with this design one could lift his finger slightly off the surface and still have it tracked, and the system could even guess the distance at which his finger is lifted, making for some cool stuff).

That part is actually incredibly inexpensive. $150 for a big ass multitouch table, and you can make that thing really big, with the only real barrier being the size of the glass (and more lamps). Of course, to get the full experience you need a digital projector (and maybe a mirror for the projector)...

So, does this mean... (5, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876497)

...that someday soon, we can run Linux on a big-ass table? [youtube.com]

-jcr

mod it up! (1)

virgil_disgr4ce (909068) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876711)

Watch the video and use those mod points!

Re:So, does this mean... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876865)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those?

Re:So, does this mean... (1)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877149)

I missed the joke...
I guess it requires sound to work properly?

Ke? (3, Insightful)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876549)

Im was trying to work out what the big deal is here....there have been multi-touch drivers around for quite a while now and that video on the table looks rather primative compared to what a lot of DIY enthusiasts have running (e.g. overhead projector). Then I realised that the big deal is having multiple input devices for one X session and that the multitouch table is actually getting in the way of that and has the potential to be quite interesting. Anyone up for missile command? :)

Re:Ke? (1)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877303)

Right. From the article:

MPX or Multi-Pointer X is a modification of the X Windows Server that allows multiple input devices to be used at the same time. You only need a normal computer plus any number of keyboards and mice attached to use it. The system lets multiple users to interact with one or various applications simultaneously.
So this means I can hook up two usb touchpads and do the two-handed flipping thing/finger-paint with both hands at the same time, it seems. To me, this is more interesting than a table-top display, since it could work without a major hardware purchase.

Hardware seemed the issue (2, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876655)

I felt it would have been better had they used an actual flat-screen touch monitor. The shadows from the projector kinda killed it. Put a decent touch-screen monitor down there and we may have something.

Also, I don't think it would have taken much to add Beryl for that extra bling that MS can't offer.

Re:Hardware seemed the issue (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876895)

A traditional touch-screen monitor can only read one touch at a time.

Re:Hardware seemed the issue (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877005)

A traditional touch-screen monitor can only read one touch at a time.

Then we should break from tradition. [multi-touchscreen.com]

I'm sure cash is a limiting factor at this point, however.

Re:Hardware seemed the issue (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877781)

On a related note, I quite liked that when the user used the "paint" app and selected green, and then painted a load of green, their arm turned green too... it was like the vitual-table-top-world extending into reality.

...sort of!

Another open source 'innovation' (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876657)

Wow, another open source copy of an existing technology. Are there any truly 'original' open source projects?

Question: Common Practical Uses? (2, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876719)

It's kind of neat and all, but aside from the Star Trek TNG factor, what practical uses could anyone really put this to? If it's on a flat horizontal surface, it's sort of wasted space (after all, I can store stuff on a tabletop!) If it's on a vertical surface, then typing becomes a raging PITA (unless typing will become obsolete/replace with something else to express thoughts and work?)

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not seeing any widespread practical use for this critter outside of some extreme niches (e.g. kiosk or limited industrial or medical machine interfaces).

/P

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (1)

xslayer (1120935) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876891)

This technology will be soon implemented in such unheard of places as conference rooms, executive boardrooms, public kiosks and convention displays. Typing can be easily implemented with a HUD keyboard as found on many PDA and touchscreen laptops. Voice recognition software will play a vital role in the evolution of this thing too.

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877061)

This technology will be soon implemented in such unheard of places as conference rooms, executive boardrooms, public kiosks and convention displays.

Kiosks I could see - an interactive "you are here" sorta map/info center... the expense might limit how many get used, though I like the idea...

Board/conference rooms? Good idea. We're still at a place where everyone brings their own PDA's or laptops to show off the latest Powerpoint-built labor-of-love, so that'll have to be factored in. I suppose that some sort of driver could be plugged into to translate not only outbound video, but mouse inputs (then again, don't they have similar rigs already, at least to some extent?)

Typing can be easily implemented with a HUD keyboard as found on many PDA and touchscreen laptops.

It would almost have to.

/P

Gambling (1)

donstenk72 (593985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876949)

Gambling is one use for such a table, plenty of money in that business I'd say. Any high end sales might also benefit - think of houses, yachts etc. Sitting cosily at a table with a salesman who pulls up videos, images and... contracts....

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (2, Funny)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877033)

Storage? How often do you store things on the surface where you use your computer?

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877125)

Storage? How often do you store things on the surface where you use your computer?

Easily... I can jam paper items that need attention under the monitor (e.g. bills), the bucket o' caffeine (say, a 20 oz. bottle of soda or cup of coffee) sits somewhere next to the keyboard, blank CDs/DVDs, geek sticks, etc etc etc... clutter items all, but in the current setup, none of it blocks my view of the screen, or hinders my typing on the keyboard.

Stuff like that.

/P

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878045)

Lean manufacturing/office principals say you don't... store anything on table tops!

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (5, Interesting)

Tabernaque86 (1046808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877413)

Any company that has a drafting department should love it. Just develop a CAD program so you can work on a drawing on an actual "page" that could be displayed at 24"x36".

Also, save the CAD file to a PDF, e-mail it to the client, and he can view the drawing package in full on their table, "Red Line" it/mark it up, save it, and e-mail it back.

Considering a package can run from ten to a hundred drawings, this potentially saves a ton of paper and other resources.

Re:Question: Common Practical Uses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19878785)

Not for typing. You can always have an additional keyboard right below it. Besides, the touch table doesn't give you pressure feedback like a keyboard's springs so it would be uncomfortable.

I'd suggest a slightly diagonal placement like a drafting table. That was not possible with CRTs but it's possible now.

On the other hand:
- Photoshop/Gimp. Every finger is a different tool, and the device is automatically a tablet with display incorporated. Much easier to use and much faster since you don't have to switch tools. Add the zooming (two fingers), scrolling (whole palm of your hand), gestures for switching layers, pie menus, etc and you have a winning interface.
- 3D editing, could be useful if your gestures help you handle the Z axis.
- Gaming: Innovative interactions. Imagine casting spells in wow with one hand while keeping someone targeted with the other, or some other combination.
- Conference rooms: I keep thinking of plugging in different computers to a single table/display to show them at the same time and allow people to compare notes. Not sure if the multitouch is useful here.
- Document browsing and organizing.
- Even simply allowing people to browse their excel as documents more easily is a win. look at the scrollwheel.

Also, The developer is not working on multitouch surfaces directly but rather multidevice X.
- Gaming: You can play a mouse-to-mouse game.
- Collaboration: Pair programming on a single editor. (Editor would need work to support multi-insertion points)
- Two mouse gimp: Change tools quickly and keep painting (doable with tablet+mouse or mouse+keyboard now)

But yeah, if your work is mostly text based, it's not going to make such a difference.

Actually it's more impressive... (5, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876761)

You know what makes the video demo in TFA more impressive that the Microsoft Surface demos I've seen?

This demo uses real applications! It's easy for MS (or whoever) to throw together a video of someone using a neat interface. You see all kinds of slick animations of photo-libraries and data being automatically uploaded to cellphones. The problem is it's probably all fake--the visual equivalent of a mockup. Basically they are showing you the way they *hope* it will look at work. If you look at some of the older Vista demos (before it was released) you'll see alot of mockup video that was never realized into actual code.

In this demo, they actually start by using Google Earth and scrolling through webpages. The fact that they are using real applications is much more impressive. It makes me believe that they may have something functional in a reasonable amount of time. It also shows that they are thinking about it as an extensible platform that can run generic software, rather than something locked-down that will only run approved code (i.e. just a really big PDA interface, rather than a novel way to interface with existing computer hardware and software).

I'll be impressed when... (3, Funny)

blankaBrew (1000609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876917)

I can finally touch my pr0n.

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (4, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877089)

How is it impressive? The microsoft demo showed a mobile phone being put on the table, it being recognised, and files being sent to/from the device. That's not been done before in such a fashion. Having google maps on a touch-screen isn't new in the slightest. It's not integrating anything new. The MS device had a whole different bunch of applications shown on it. As it can be so much more than just a desktop - a new way of interacting with a computer - showing it acting as a desktop is a bit short-sighted and uninspired :)

Or do you think MS were somehow incapable of getting google earth to run on a computer? Because that's the only assertion you've made that, if true, would make this offering "more impressive" than that from MS. Or, maybe, these guys didn't have the ability to make new applications, and had no choice but to use some really basic stuff somoene else had made, that's been knocking around for years?

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

blankaBrew (1000609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877205)

You do realize that the M$ demo was a fake, and that their "Surface" isn't capable of those features at this time. M$ admitted to this. The linux demo was a real demo. The iPhone is a real product. M$ is in fantasy land with a big useless table.

Actually M$ should stick to doing all their demos as fakes considering their bad track record of watching their stuff lockup or BSOD during real live demos.

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877525)

And you have a link to prove that Microsoft themselves said the demos were all fakes?

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878569)

You do realize that the M$ demo was a fake, and that their "Surface" isn't capable of those features at this time. M$ admitted to this.
See this video [youtube.com] of Surface being used and demonstrated live. You are either be misinformed or lying.

The linux demo was a real demo. The iPhone is a real product. M$ is in fantasy land with a big useless table.
Multi-touch has been kicking around for longer than this Linux project and the iPhone and Microsoft Surface, before we start giving Steve Jobs credit. Microsoft Surface specifically was first looked at by Bathiche and Wilson of Microsoft Research in 2001, and the first prototype was done in 2003. Apple had just released their iPod at this time, so I'd be amazed if the iPhone was under serious development at the time.

Multi-touch isn't even a big deal, it's the concept of surface computing, and the software they've developed to work with it. See the YouTube vid; it has some very interesting applications, and if the price of multi-touch screens goes down it'll be huge. (If the price doesn't go down it'll be a cute fingerprint-coated side attraction at expensive hotels and board rooms.)

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19877213)

Wow! This is one of those instances where every single comment you make is answered in the parent post! Allow me to reply to you using only the parent's comments:

How is it impressive?
This demo uses real applications!

The microsoft demo showed a mobile phone being put on the table, it being recognised, and files being sent to/from the device.
It's easy for MS (or whoever) to throw together a video of someone using a neat interface. You see all kinds of slick animations of photo-libraries and data being automatically uploaded to cellphones. The problem is it's probably all fake--the visual equivalent of a mockup.

The MS device had a whole different bunch of applications shown on it.
Basically they are showing you the way they *hope* it will look at work.

As it can be so much more than just a desktop - a new way of interacting with a computer
If you look at some of the older Vista demos (before it was released) you'll see alot of mockup video that was never realized into actual code.

Or do you think MS were somehow incapable of getting google earth to run on a computer? Because that's the only assertion you've made that, if true, would make this offering "more impressive" than that from MS. Or, maybe, these guys didn't have the ability to make new applications, and had no choice but to use some really basic stuff somoene else had made, that's been knocking around for years?
In this demo, they actually start by using Google Earth and scrolling through webpages. The fact that they are using real applications is much more impressive. It makes me believe that they may have something functional in a reasonable amount of time. It also shows that they are thinking about it as an extensible platform that can run generic software, rather than something locked-down that will only run approved code (i.e. just a really big PDA interface, rather than a novel way to interface with existing computer hardware and software).


I mean, did you even read the post you were replying to??

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

LeedsSideStreets (998417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878591)

The microsoft demo showed a mobile phone being put on the table, it being recognised, and files being sent to/from the device. That's not been done before in such a fashion.
Do you know that it actually worked? What is there to indicate that it wasn't a mock-up? I could lay my LCD monitor flat, move my phone around on it and give the video guy down the hall for some post-production and in an hour I could advertise my own hi-tech surface product that 'recognizes my phone and grabs files off of it'. I thought a lot of the MS Surface stuff looked cool in the video, until they started showing stuff that almost certainly does not work yet and I realized that everything in the narration is worded to indicate that what is on the screen is what they hope to make possible, not what they actually have working. After that the whole whole thing might as well have been a sci-fi movie.

If Microsoft has a lot of that stuff working, then that's cool. It looks good and there are some interesting ideas. But, I have no idea how much is MS Vaporware. Until we find out, I, like the GP, am more impressed by something that actually works now, rather than the promises.

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877151)

Aye.

1. It shows the power of X.
2. It works within and "extends" existing frameworks.

This makes it way cooler than .

With MPX, you're starting from all of the tools of "legacy" X, and all your "legacy" applications work.

X development is getting very exciting; and MPX and/or Compiz are just two examples of this.

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877297)

There is variety of tools to record such demos and replay them and no-one would notice the difference. I've done some demos myself because I really didn't want to make live demos everytime some customer visited our website :) We even did one demo where we were supposed to show how files move through IPSEC tunnel and how system is able to roam between LAN/WLAN/Dialup at the same time. Well, everything worked for about minute or so, then the system crashed and had to be rebooted. Our clever marketing droid block the audience's view at every crash'n'reboot-time (reboot was really quick) and no-one noticed anything.

But what actually makes sense is that if you have some minor clitch in your system which you didn't have time to repair before some big event, you want to make sure that nothing bad happens at the demo, and you cheat a little bit. It would be foolish to have such bug, which is probably fixed back at the office (I actually fixed the bug the same day when demo was being kept) at the same time when demo is being shown, to cause drop in your stock value or give bad PR to you or something.

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877491)

rather than something locked-down that will only run approved code (i.e. just a really big PDA interface, rather than a novel way to interface with existing computer hardware and software).

When did this conversation switch to talking about the iPhone?

Re:Actually it's more impressive... (1)

linguizic (806996) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877791)

I thought it was an iRelevant remark.

So tell me who really cares... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876819)

about those lesser operating systems?

I want a Mac OSX Tablet PC !

Re:So tell me who really cares... (1)

newr00tic (471568) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877907)

I want a Mac OSX Tablet PC !
Yeah, and what about the *BSD toilet-stool?

Re:So tell me who really cares... (1)

halber_mensch (851834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878719)

Yeah, and what about the *BSD toilet-stool?
That's the distinct arena of GNU/TURD.

Again Microsoft copies other people's technology.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19876893)

Meh, Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory (MERL) has had a real product (DiamondTouch) in the hands
of researchers for over 5 years now:

http://www.merl.com/projects/DiamondTouch/ [merl.com]

And even published papers on it. When will Microsoft do something original?

Re:Again Microsoft copies other people's technolog (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19877343)

When will Microsoft do something original?

funny coming in with an article praising linux for ripping of ms.

but then again what can we expect from people who also think that ripping off unix is innovation?

MODS WAKE UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19878421)

El Lobo (994537) [slashdot.org] has the patent on calling linux a "uninnovative unix rip off" (or "linuzzz").
Expect a C&D from him soon. Or is that you, hiding behind AC?

Why anonimous Microsoft trolls get modded positively here?

Re:Again Microsoft copies other people's technolog (2, Interesting)

daskinil (991205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877451)

Hmmm, over 5 years? OK so you try to make a point while knowing the facts on only one side. You're obviously spreading a little FUD by making readers assume microsoft through this idea together recently, although they started working on it in 2001. While, according to your statements at least, they had an already finished product by then, then microsoft may be implementing their own vision of this product. However, why should microsoft be excluded from making a product. What do you mean by original, something noone has ever thought of? I didn't see anything about device recognition in your link, while moving data from digital cameras or laptops. That seems different, or is their a device that already does that? Either way- if it ends up to be a better product it will be worth microsofts investment. Otherwise, its their money spent anyways, you don't have to buy it- buy the diamond touch if its better.

Re:Again Microsoft copies other people's technolog (1)

jeppster (1031326) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878703)

"And even published papers on it. When will Microsoft do something original?"

Even if MS had no originality in Surface, it doesn't matter because EVERYBODY has heard of Surface, and very few have heard of Diamond Touch. It's the exposure that counts from their end, and from my perspective, I'm glad they did it because I never would have heard of Diamond Touch.

Let's just hope MS can actually pull this off...

Arbitrary window rotation? (2, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876965)

Are these table displays going to be the first need for arbitrary window rotation? We'll be having people sitting on all sides of the display - eventually someone will want a window squared to them, but they won't be squared to the table. Does this cause difficulties with rendering the content?

Everything should be vector drawn, so theoretically it shouldn't be a problem. But it will require pretty high resolution to keep from getting too fuzzy of text. At least that's how it seems to me.

Re:Arbitrary window rotation? (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877985)

Look at Mandriva's Metisse window manager, it already handles arbitrary rotation of application windows, even along multiple axes. I can definitely see this being used on a table-based display.

http://www.mandriva.com/projects/metisse/ [mandriva.com]

Re:Arbitrary window rotation? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19878049)

what if 4 philosophers are sitting around a display and each one needs 2 windows but the display resolution only supports rendering 6 windows at a time?

what then?

Investors... (1)

Adeptus_Luminati (634274) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876971)

... if you can't get in on the IPOs for this new multi-touch tech, don't worry, you can still make a killing by buying WINDEX stock now!! ;-)

Adeptus

GAH! Stop! (1)

Chanc_Gorkon (94133) | more than 7 years ago | (#19876985)

I wish everyone would STOP acting like Microsoft owns multi touch technology. Microsoft has just come out with a WORSE implementation of it then Microsoft and others have done. Cameras? Not a MULTI TOUCH screen?? Yeah if you had actually read the Surface announcement, it actually uses a camera technology versus having a actual multi touch surface liek the iPhone uses.

On the other hand, I think this has to be a record with a new technology getting Linux support. It used to be you'd have to wait a while to get new technology on Linux. Not anymore.

Re:GAH! Stop! (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877139)

MS uses cameras because it does a lot more than just recognise people touching the screen. It can recognise mobile phones being put on it, different materials/objects/etc. That can't be done with a touch-sensitive screen at the moment, but it can be done with cameras. Using cameras and not an integrated solution has meant the MS offering does stuff no other has done yet. The iPhone needs a person's hand to operate, whereas the MS demo can do everything the iPhone's input device can (and, indeed MPX), and much more.

Re:GAH! Stop! (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877547)

the MS offering does stuff no other has done yet
..and when I can use the MS offering for myself instead of relying on some marketing videos then I will begin to believe it.

Re:GAH! Stop! (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878183)

also remember they created that "triangle" based color optical code for Xbox cameras. that would be related. The camera reads the device code thru the table surface. They also are using IR cameras to measure "finger pressure" on the surface. It's quite clever. In some ways much cheaper because the surface is "just" a sheet of glass, not a special electrical surface... easily replaceable in commercial environs. The processor overhead is way too much though...

Re:GAH! Stop! (2, Funny)

Foerstner (931398) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877237)

Of course not. Everyone on Slashdot knows Apple invented multitouch for the iPhone.

Re:GAH! Stop! (1)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877405)

Microsoft has just come out with a WORSE implementation of it then Microsoft...

Microsoft sucks so much, even Microsoft does it better!

Re:GAH! Stop! (1)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878863)

That is called optical multitouch. It is a widely accepted implementation that Jeff Han has been giving some pretty good demonstrations of.

Those are not just "cameras", either. Surface uses Diffused Illumination, which involves infrared light being shined upwards. The cameras pick up the infrared light and use that for shape recognition.
This technology has been implemented successfully in many places, and there are many open forums discussing them. It's quite simple to do so yourself, in fact! (There is a DI multitouch table half living in my house right now).

This is also definitely not "new technology", although it is nice to see Linux beating the other major OSs to it. I can see Linux software being a bit of a pioneer in this field, now that it is moving into the mainstream.

The iPhone uses a Capacitive Touch Screen. Those are expensive. Look at the prices on 15" resistive touch screens ("regular" single touch screens) for an example. A capacitive one costs even more money than that. This is for good reason, too: They are bloody complicated.
Optical is the way to go for large multitouch tables! It is significantly less expensive and software can determine the shape of an object (using pictures of it, naturally).
Diffused illumination hardware can also pick up things lifted slightly above the surface, so it is a lot more responsive and friendlier to use.

MS Motion-Detect is more like (3, Informative)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877083)

MS 'Surface' is an array of cameras that motion-detect. The cameras are below the surface and they are responsible for all proxy work done between user and the system.

There is no interaction with the 'surface' other than to prescribe a boundary layer (zone) for the cameras to baseline.

Re:MS Motion-Detect is more like (2, Informative)

figleaf (672550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877243)

Apparently there is more than one group at Microsoft developing multi-touch capabilities using different techniques.
Here is one without cameras: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulwA3n8AYM0 [youtube.com]

Re:MS Motion-Detect is more like (3, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877437)

While this may be true it's like saying that a mouse is just a couple of wheels that need to be moved on an X-Y axis basis to move a cursor. It's trickery on a certain level, sure. I guess that's why it's called an interface.

I don't understand all the sour grapes associated with this. While I have no use for the interface it's not to say something worthwhile can't be produced.

demo shows flakiness (4, Insightful)

edxwelch (600979) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877131)

Did anyone notice in that video that he had to click couple times to get some of the widgets to activate?
Maybe the mouse still has some advantage?

I found it funny that.. (1)

figleaf (672550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877287)

..even though this is supposedly a multi-touch demo the guy was just using just one finger on the display for 90% of the demo!

Re:I found it funny that.. (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877881)

Probably because 90% of applications are only designed for 1 continuous input device (a mouse).

ETA for consumers (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877305)

Is there an ETA till something like this will be in consumers hands? And I dont mean $10k for business only, but being able to buy something for home use.

I already have some uses for it and would love to develop for such a system.

Re:ETA for consumers (1)

MrBandersnatch (544818) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877619)

Its not quite at consumer level but its certainly available at the enthusiast level. Have a look at http://www.instructables.com/id/EJIXKOEF3ER7VN5/ [instructables.com] or a search for "multitouch diy".

I'd estimate thats its currently possible to put together a large (42" or greater) version of one of these with 1080p (display) resolutions for under $800 EXCLUDING the cost of a PC. With some clearer hackery you could probably get the sensor resolution up to higher than that.

If I currently had the space for one Id be building one to that kind of spec.

The big problem with tabletop displays... (2, Interesting)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#19877765)

is that you're hunched over them. If used for extended periods of time, the result is terrible back problems.

Re:The big problem with tabletop displays... (1)

seandiggity (992657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878783)

True, but that could easily be alleviated by utilizing another display that shows what you're doing. Eventually, the interface could allow for some cool interaction between the two screens. For example, a web browser could show webpages in the vertical display and browser toolbars in the horizontal one.

Patents you say? (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878135)

Not to rain on anyones parade but this is why MS have the patent claims. Every time someone innovative comes out or a new idea the open source community makes their own version. Like it or not this will infringe on patents. It's because of stuff like this MS may have a real aargument in court even if the Linux fanboys say other wise.

Disclaimer : I am not a MS fanboy, I run Ubuntu but this is a valid point people keep forgetting.

Re:Patents you say? (2, Insightful)

seandiggity (992657) | more than 7 years ago | (#19878561)

"Every time some[thing] innovative comes out or a new idea the open source community makes their own version."

Microsoft is not an innovator, and never has been (the history speaks for itself). Microsoft gets credit as an innovator because of its incredible power, gained through dirty business tactics. The same could also be said for many (most?) corporations.

This touchscreen technology has been in development for a long time, before Microsoft even looked at it and long before the vaporware announcement of the Surface. The ideas behind the technology (i.e. what Microsoft's patents are made of) are no doubt even older. Should only Microsoft be allowed to develop software for multi-touch displays?

Also, Microsoft's Surface is likely nothing more than a glorified demo and can't run real applications. This MPX system is running real applications already, but needs a lot of work (like so much other software).

For free software to avoid patent litigation, software patents need to be abolished. Thankfully, we have licenses like GPLv3 that provide some forms of protection in the meantime.

Computer rage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19878493)

The thing with these table devices is, what about computer rage? Think of all the people punching the side of the screen, slamming their fists on the keyboard, etc. Imagine something like this [youtube.com] happening to the table.
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