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FAA Gets a Big-Screen Touch Table

kdawson posted about 7 years ago | from the every-situation-room-needs-one dept.

Displays 130

Matt writes "Northrop Grumman, best known for missile systems and other military gear, has for years been selling the TouchTable as part of what it calls an ' integrated collaboration environment.' They delivered their TouchTable to the US Federal Aviation Administration last month and will showcase their technologies next week at a defense conference in London. There are two versions of the TouchTable; one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution), the other with a 45-inch screen (1920x1080 resolution). Moving a hand across the surface pans the display' two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in. This simple interface allows users easily to change a view from miles above the Earth to a detailed layout of a single city block."

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Sounds like an Iphone? (2, Insightful)

blantonl (784786) | about 7 years ago | (#20521757)

Sounds to me like a massive iPhone. I wonder if any patents were violated with this thing?

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (1)

Xzzy (111297) | about 7 years ago | (#20521841)

It uses a projector to put the image on the table.

Seems kind of backwards to me but I bet it's cheaper than getting an LCD of that size. Only similarity to the iPhone seems to be the way you use touch to navigate, but ideas like that have been floating around for years now.

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522009)

Cheaper, what planet are you from? The big military contractors like Northrup Grumman would charge billions for a "wall mounted, thin device for moving image viewing"... I work in government contracting and I have seen it... Thank your elected officials for forcing contracts on your government civil servants to force us to use them.

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (1)

SEMW (967629) | about 7 years ago | (#20522045)

Sounds to me like a massive iPhone. I wonder if any patents were violated with this thing?
Possibly, but only by Apple. Table-top multi-touch interfaces have been around long before the iphone. E.g. see this video [ted.com] .

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (1)

pben (22734) | about 7 years ago | (#20522919)

I have wanted one of these table top computer displays since I saw Aliens in 1986. When the marines retreat back to the living quarters after they got beat up in the cooling towers they reviewed the building blueprints on a table top display like this. I was a draftsman back then and I thought that was the coolest display I had ever seen but then a 286 was cutting edge!

Horribly Poor Design: Grease Marks (2, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | about 7 years ago | (#20522279)

Anyone who has ever operated a Sony camcorder understands the fundamental design flaw with the military Touch Table. Constantly touching the screen with your hands smudges the screen. Seeing the streaks of grease and the occasion bits of dirt is distracting. In a real-time battle scenario, I would not want to be distracted.

The Touch Table should be modified so that external sensors can detect the motion of the hand about 1 foot away from the screen. Those sensors would then translate the motion into zooms and pans of the image on the screen.

Re:Horribly Poor Design: Grease Marks (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 7 years ago | (#20522923)

Or, as Maddox puts it [thebestpag...iverse.net] :

[stupid lameness filter stupid]iPhone ___ Nokia E70
Screen turns into a smudgy
piece of shit after a few ----------Yes _______ No
minutes of use:

(Formatting fun!)

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522293)

By the iPhone? Loads. Do you think touch surfaces popped out of Steve Job's ass?

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (1)

coso (559844) | about 7 years ago | (#20522305)

ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT iPhone! /Wonder if it's price will drop by almost half in a month. It would have me if it were holographic.

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20523059)

It sounds like the zoom function works the opposite of the iPhone, where pulling fingers apart zooms IN and pushing together zooms OUT.

For a description of the technology Microsoft uses in its similar Surface device, see U.S. patent no. 6061177, filed by an independent inventor in December 1996.

http://v3.espacenet.com/origdoc?DB=EPODOC&IDX=US60 61177&F=0&QPN=US6061177 [espacenet.com]

Re:Sounds like an Iphone? (1)

kaizokuace (1082079) | about 7 years ago | (#20524233)

as if it matters. attacking military developers for patent infringement is un-patriotic!!!11

Brilliant (2, Funny)

cpq (1153697) | about 7 years ago | (#20521759)

Google Earth + Touch Screen + Plasma = How many billion? Brilliant.

Re:Brilliant (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#20521789)

Why billions when you could have .... millions! *pinky to mouth*

Re:Brilliant (1)

cpq (1153697) | about 7 years ago | (#20521823)

Exactly. Perhaps I'm not seeing the incredible technology here... Maybe if it had a calendar, or YouTube...

Re:Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522221)

Actually, they use ArcGlobe from ESRI, not Google Earth. It is pretty customized for the touch table.

Re:Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522333)

My sentiments exactly. The FAA bears a lot of the responsibility for keeping the radio spectrum locked up and making flying as difficult, inefficient, and unpleasant as possible. A real technological breakthrough would be to find a replacement for the FAA.

Re:Brilliant (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 7 years ago | (#20523189)

A real technological breakthrough would be to find a replacement for the FAA.

Which, due to the incredible amount of crap they handle, would be just as bloated as the FAA. I give it -6 months.

Re:Brilliant (1)

Catskul (323619) | about 7 years ago | (#20522669)

Its innovative...
...because its horizontal.

Counter-intuitive zoom? (2, Insightful)

meatmanek (1062562) | about 7 years ago | (#20521773)

Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 7 years ago | (#20521829)

Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

Fingers apart is widening the rectangle of terrain being viewed, fingers together is reducing the rectangle of terrain.

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (1)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 7 years ago | (#20522025)

Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

Fingers apart is widening the rectangle of terrain being viewed, fingers together is reducing the rectangle of terrain.
Exactly. The blurb indicates the opposite. Apart zooms out, together zooms in.

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (2, Funny)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | about 7 years ago | (#20522189)

Methinks someone was not paying attention to Grover on Sesame Street: "Near! ... (bounce, bounce, bounce)... Far!"

Fingers apart == far == zoom out, fingers together == near == zoom in. If you drew an imaginary rectangle over the physical location being viewed, zooming out would make the rectangle bigger (widening as the GP poster phrased it), and zooming in would make the rectangle smaller over the actual physical location (narrowing). Pretty darn intuitive, if you ask me.

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522529)

You should think of it in terms of Goatse. Hands apart, anus larger. Hands together, anus smaller.

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20521837)

I'd bet the article got it wrong.

Yup. It's wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20521911)

In fact, the video proves that the article got it wrong.

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (3, Informative)

Hennell (1005107) | about 7 years ago | (#20521953)

Video on their website [touchtable.com] seems to show it better.

If problem, fix is easy (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 7 years ago | (#20522291)

Its called a 'user selectable property' most software has this capability.

Re:Counter-intuitive zoom? (1)

gobbo (567674) | about 7 years ago | (#20523567)

Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

I was looking to mod the right answer, but didn't see it, so here:
The summary is misleading. Like other multitouch devices, this one zooms in when you pull your fingers apart, and vice versa.

Why do they do it this way? there are comments on this page that bringing your fingers together should zoom in. That is an abstract, thought-experiment approach that doesn't include an essential sense: proprioception. [wikipedia.org]

When you pull your fingers apart, you are pulling. To trick your visual processing to work with your body, they should correllate (ever get motion sickness? That's why.). Simply, if you pull, the object should approach; push, and it should recede... even with both fingers on one hand. It's a muscular thing, a brainstem kind of thing, it isn't something abstract. Mess with it at your peril. There's more biology involved in a touch interface than simply a visual metaphor.

iPhone (1)

tylersoze (789256) | about 7 years ago | (#20523917)

It's pretty self-evident to anyone that has used Google maps or Safari on an iPhone for 2 seconds that it's fingers out to zoom in and fingers in to zoom out. Your fingers are moving the points closer together (fingers in == zooming out) or further apart (fingers out == zooming in).

Interface Design (4, Insightful)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 7 years ago | (#20521807)

two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in
This strikes me as counterintuitive. Perhaps actual testing proved this was the best way, but it seems to me that it's exactly backwards. If you wanted to zoom out, would it not be more logical to place two fingers on two points on the map (say) six inches apart, then have the map zoom out as you "dragged" the two points closer together, and vice-versa?

Re:Interface Design (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 7 years ago | (#20521921)

"two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in"

This strikes me as counterintuitive. Perhaps actual testing proved this was the best way, but it seems to me that it's exactly backwards. If you wanted to zoom out, would it not be more logical to place two fingers on two points on the map (say) six inches apart, then have the map zoom out as you "dragged" the two points closer together, and vice-versa?


Disclaimer, I'm a software developer who has done graphics, perhaps I share the same warped perspective as the designers. Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display.

Re:Interface Design (3, Informative)

Dun Malg (230075) | about 7 years ago | (#20522001)

Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display.
Enlarging a small piece of the visible map to take up more screen space is usually considered zooming in.

Re:Interface Design (1)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | about 7 years ago | (#20522235)

As I mentioned in my reply to your post here [slashdot.org] your mental model isn't quite right. The screen space is constant, the amount of the map you display varies. If the map has a constant "physical" size, then zooming in shows less of the map not more. Zooming out, in turn, shows more of the map, in reduced detail.

Re:Interface Design (2, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | about 7 years ago | (#20523369)

Their mental model may be based on this simple notion. Take a balloon with a print on it, like a logo. Don't inflate it, just cut the part with the print on it out. Find a small opening somewhere in your house to view this print through. Now take the piece between two fingers, and stretch it apart. What you see through that small opening is the print getting enlarged. The more you stretch, the bigger the tiny detail in the print becomes. This is akin to zooming in.

Put differently, and within the device's context, say you're viewing the Boston area. Now you want to zoom in on Boston Logan Airport. You put one finger at one corner of the airport, and the other at another corner. Keep in mind that the entire Boston area is currently in view, so your fingers will be spaced fairly closely together. Now to zoom in, I - and GP - would simply move the two fingers apart - perhaps all the way to opposite corners of the device's display. Essentially, the rectangle whose opposite corner boundaries were defined by the two fingertips now get re-mapped to the whatever two corners I specify after my fingers leave the display's surface. Now Boston Logal Airport occupies all of the display. That's zooming in - not out.

I'm sure it will feel intuitive enough once you work with it for a while - but I don't think that necessarily means that it is the -most- intuitive option available.

Re:Interface Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522155)

You suck. Kidding, but I wish you guys would consider what we users think as more important.

First of all, you should be doing what the other programs do. As someone who works with graphics software, I can't stand it when 1 out of 10 programs decides to reverse the mousewheel zoom or 3D orbit from what I'm used to. Even worse is when something like Google Earth reverses the Y orbit but not the X.

And second, you're wrong. Look at all of the multitouch demos and iphone videos out there, and how intuitive they are. When the user is "touching" an item on the screen, they should be manipulating that item. Not some concept of the "camera" or world map.

This device has it almost right, with one exception. They are using the changing distance between the fingers to control zoom, but the movement is always centered on the screen. What they should be doing is keeping the points on the earth below the fingertips relative to the finger movements. In other words, if I touch Boston and New York on a Map of the US, and then drag my fingers to opposite corners of the display, Boston and New York should end up at those corners. That would allow for easy rotation as well.

Re:Interface Design (2, Informative)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | about 7 years ago | (#20522281)

I've actually used this touch table and it works exactly like you want, if you rotate your two fingers while pulling them apart it will zoom AND rotate - if you just plant your fingers and rotate them about an imaginary point between your fingers the display will rotate about that point - the interface is very intuitive and easy to master in seconds

Re:Interface Design (1)

Moodie-1 (966737) | about 7 years ago | (#20524163)

Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display.

What you are describing is known to us normal humans as 'zooming in', not 'zooming out'. Think of it as if you were hovering far above the Earth and you wanted to get closer to a particular area. You would zoom in, that is, you would get closer to the Earth.

Fingers apart, unfolding the map ... (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 7 years ago | (#20524665)

"Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display."

What you are describing is known to us normal humans as 'zooming in', not 'zooming out'. Think of it as if you were hovering far above the Earth and you wanted to get closer to a particular area. You would zoom in, that is, you would get closer to the Earth.


And you are shrinking the piece of the world/map to be displayed. In my original comment, enlarging the piece of the world/map does *not* mean magnifying the map, it means enlarging the portion of the map being shown on the display. The screen size is fixed, there is a rectangular portion of the map being shown on the display, fingers apart expands that map rectangle (zoom out), fingers together shrinks that map rectangle (zoom in). In the real world fingers apart is like unfolding the map, you are "zooming out" as more of the map becomes visible. Fingers together is like folding the map, "zooming in". Fingers together to zoom in also makes intuitive sense in the you are zooming in on the intersection, pointing at a point in a way.

I believe the usage is intuitive, the problem is describing the process to each other in words. :-)

Re:Interface Design (1)

Tanman (90298) | about 7 years ago | (#20522101)

Their method is viewing fingers as representing perspective, not a physical manipulation. You push your fingers together to focus on a point, ultimately where your fingers meet. You pull them apart to widen your view. It's very intuitive, and I would go so far as to say the standard for this type of interface. Converge to zoom and focus, spread to get the 'big picture'

Re:Interface Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522869)

Actually, the video shows just the opposite. Spread to zoom in and focus on a spot, converge to zoom out and shrink those points to get the big picture.

Re:Interface Design (1)

Cheapy (809643) | about 7 years ago | (#20522299)

It seems right to me. Move your fingers together to "lock-in" on a location, and spread them apart to zoom-out. Moving closer to look closer, moving apart to get a larger view of the picture. Seems about right to me.

Re:Interface Design (2, Funny)

pimpimpim (811140) | about 7 years ago | (#20522715)

It's called the goatse interface. Using two hands two move the point of interest apart enables a closer look.

Re:Interface Design (2, Informative)

tyrione (134248) | about 7 years ago | (#20522749)

Or from the following notion:

You have a Cupboard before you. You are at armslength (your hands are close together with each one holding a cupboard door handle) from the cupboard doors. As you open the doors your arms extend to the left and right and you step forward to look inside the cupboard and at the contents of what lies within.

You don't close a cupboard and get closer to it. You pull away and your arms return to their closed door position.

Re:Interface Design (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | about 7 years ago | (#20522809)

Oh they used cupboard, well, whatever floats their boat. Personally (and rather unfortunately), I find the goatse analogy that I just mentioned easier to remember.

Also, just imagine the possibilities, an interactive goatse as screensaver! I should stop now ruining everybody's day, shouldn't I ;) Sorry!

Re:Interface Design (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 7 years ago | (#20522983)

Its an issue of abstraction. Moving fingers apart to "open" something is different from "zooming" something.

Its the same as the difference between a scrollbar and a "hand" for dragging. If you use the hand option in Adobe reader or an image editor, clicking and dragging should move the image around, much like on Google maps. If you use a scroll bar, clicking and moving moves the image in the opposite direction of movement. Both are correct.

In the case of zooming with fingers, I agree with the GP -- when I move my fingers together, the screen should zoom out to make the object smaller, and vice-versa.

Re:Interface Design (1)

Moodie-1 (966737) | about 7 years ago | (#20524617)

Besides being a comment upon MikeBabcock's post above, this is also an addendum to my reply to AHumbleOpinion's post a bit higher up.

The best way to understand this issue is to visualize it from an individualist point-of-view. There are two entities involved here, you and the map/virtual globe/window/webpage/whathaveyou. The only one you have control over is yourself. You are only one tiny little human being and cannot in any way affect (i.e. edit/crop/filter/etc.) the other entity that you are interacting with. The only thing you can do is to change your point-of-view of it. So just think of it as your cyberself floating over a vast immovable landscape and moving your location around. Using this analogy you would zoom in to get yourself closer to the immovable map, not the other way around.

This also applies to the viewing of text documents and webpages. You don't know just how long the document/webpage is because you have only a small window to use for viewing it. So you drag the scrollbar/slider down to move your limited viewpoint further down the very long document/webpage.

Using the pdf-style grab&drag method is the opposite of this but that is not as much of a problem as it could be because the pointer conveniently changes to a hand to imply that you are about to 'grab' the document.

Re:Interface Design (2, Informative)

th77 (515478) | about 7 years ago | (#20523449)

The video in TFA clearly shows people moving their fingers apart to zoom in, and together to zoom out. The article got it wrong. In fact, it looks like that part of the article is from a press release, so that would mean than NG got their own damn system wrong. Idiots.

Re:Interface Design (1)

steresi (930223) | about 7 years ago | (#20524809)

Mod this up!! It sounds like the article may be wrong.

Re:Interface Design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20523527)

The article got it wrong, if that's indeed what it said. (I didn't read it carefully.) I've seen one and it works like the iPhone. Move your hands apart and it zooms in.

Re:Interface Design (4, Informative)

streak (23336) | about 7 years ago | (#20524113)

Being a developer of the touchtable, I can tell you that the article is backwards.
You spread your fingers to zoom in, and move them together to zoom out.

Re:Interface Design (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#20524931)

Logic and feel are, often enough, two entirely different things.

A big ass table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20521809)

So the FAA got a big ass table [youtube.com] ?

Wooooo.. that'll help the FAA... (1)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | about 7 years ago | (#20521833)

...they're not fscked up or anything, they'll be able to use that RIGHT AWAY.

What a *miserable* department... at Oshkosh, I heard the outgoing administrator say, after a flight in a single-engine plane: "Wow!!! People look just like ants when you're up there". An inadvertent window in to an empty mind.

Fuck the FAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522267)

The FAA and the lawyers have almost destroyed the people's right to their airspace in the US. There are half as many pilots in the country as there were 40 years ago. HALF ... Now a new airplane, the cheapest new airplane that can carry two people, cost more then a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS and has the same engine design as they did in the 60's. This same airplane weighing less then a little korean car, and having less electronics then your enigne's computer. The FAA's approach to improving safety is to make the engineering and legal costs so astronomical that only the super-rich can fly. That's why MOST of the new airplanes built in the country are built by amateurs. Don't believe me? Look it up. www.vansaircraft.can versus cessna.com

-Bitter pilot.

Here be patens? (1)

Aminion (896851) | about 7 years ago | (#20521845)

Wanna bet that the TouchTable is infringing on at least a dozen patens?

Re:Here be patens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20521983)

Wanna bet that the TouchTable is infringing on at least a dozen patens?

Yes, but the US government can exempt itself from patents.

Take, eat... (1)

jshackney (99735) | about 7 years ago | (#20522027)

Catholic? Anglican? Methodist? Lutheran?

Re:Here be patens? (1)

unsouled (1013641) | about 7 years ago | (#20522473)

This device is the exact same thing as Microsoft's tabletop. Don't they have the patent to this?

Resolution (5, Funny)

russlar (1122455) | about 7 years ago | (#20521857)

one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution)
those are some big-assed pixels.

Re:Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522031)

About 1.33 mm across.

Re:Resolution (1)

TBerben (1061176) | about 7 years ago | (#20522147)

one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution)
those are some big-assed pixels.
Why is this modded funny? I have a 22-inch screen with a 1680x1050 resolution and I if I concentrate I can see the pixels. That screen is four times larger at nearly the same resolution. Those have to be really large pixels

Re:Resolution (1)

russlar (1122455) | about 7 years ago | (#20522209)

Why is this modded funny?
as the OP, I'm wondering the same thing. But, I'll take the points as they come.

Re:Resolution (1)

SlowMovingTarget (550823) | about 7 years ago | (#20522275)

Well, quite obviously, it is funny because you used "big-assed" in your post (which, incidentally, Firefox would prefer I changed to big-ashed, which is only mildly funny). To repeat, the original post was funny because each pixel has two oversized muffins... Those pixels aren't one-cheeked, they are, in fact, badonkadonk pixels.

Obligatory (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | about 7 years ago | (#20522213)

Surely you mean, big assed-pixels?

Re:Resolution (2, Insightful)

AaxelB (1034884) | about 7 years ago | (#20522329)

This is very true, and it also seems slightly ridiculous that the 84" table has a lower resolution than the 45".

I can see why, though, after looking around a bit. On such a large table, if you're collaborating, you want to be able to see and read what's going on on the other side of the table. If it were more standard-sized pixels, a lot of people couldn't tell for the life of them what their comrade on the other side of the table is pointing at. Granted, ideally we'd have high (good-looking) resolution and just use large fonts and such, but why? It's cheaper to use bigger pixels and it wouldn't add much functionality to upgrade to 6400x4800.

You can see in the first picture in their (pdf) Brochure [touchtable.com] a dialog box on the table that is a good 12" wide. In order for people all around the table to see and read the window, it all but needs to be huge.

Re:Resolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522609)

Disclaimer: I worked on this project for several years.
The large (84') table is not a screen. The image is projected from above, the table is actually a white surface with the edges comprised of LED cameras that track the movements made by the hands. Not only that, the surface is touch sensitive as well, so if you press down on it, it can be made to show different things. Very useful in GIS applications and the like.

Re:Resolution (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | about 7 years ago | (#20522825)

Speaking of which, I wonder what the largest pixel in the world is.

I couldn't find anything even when Googling it [google.com] .

Re:Resolution (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 7 years ago | (#20523093)

Speaking of which, I wonder what the largest pixel in the world is.

Blinkenlights? [blinkenlights.de]

Integrated PORK environment, actually.... (1)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | about 7 years ago | (#20521863)

... MORE waste, fraud, abuse, delay, intransigence, indifference....

Whoopeeee!

not an iphone ripoff (1)

SolusSD (680489) | about 7 years ago | (#20521927)

Anyone that has seen any of those "TED" videos knows the multitouch screen isn't an Apple innovation.

Sounds Like Microsoft Has Some Prior Art (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 7 years ago | (#20521943)

It will be interesting to see if which came first - the FAA touch table or Microsoft's desktop computer.

God I hope it was the FAA touch table. It would be too funny to see MS get blown out of the water after their big splash with that thing.

Microsoft Surface (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20522633)

It will be interesting to see if which came first - the FAA touch table or Microsoft's desktop computer. God I hope it was the FAA touch table. It would be too funny to see MS get blown out of the water after their big splash with that thing.

Reading the fine article:

Pressure sensitive surface allows multiple methods of information [newlaunches.com]

Microsoft's Surface uses cameras to track input. The actual tabletop is nothing more than an ordinary acrylic panel used as a rear projection screen.

It should be easy to clean and difficult to break, scratch or stain.

The technology allows non-digital objects to be used as input devices. In one example, a normal paint brush was used to create a digital painting in the software. [In] using cameras for input, the system does not rely on [the] properties required of conventional touchscreen or touchpad devices such as the capacitance, electrical resistance, or temperature of the tool [being] used. Microsoft Surface [wikipedia.org]

Surface can sense and interact with "domino" tagged objects, like a digital camera. What lurks below Micosoft's Surface [arstechnica.com]

The Grumman maxes out at 1600x1200 for an 84" display. To my mind, that seems a little disappointing for a military-grade tactical display.

Surface at 1280x960 for a 30" display.

Re:Sounds Like Microsoft Has Some Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20523117)

>It would be too funny to see MS get blown out of the water after their big splash with that thing.

Stupid fanboy fails to understand the implications. Northrop and MS and the other people working on smart surface displays can afford to cross-license patents, if they haven't already.

Individual OSS developers can't. It's a hardware patent so it's globally valid. OSS is the only people who get blown out of the water.

Re:Sounds Like Microsoft Has Some Prior Art (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20523905)

Individual OSS developers can't. It's a hardware patent so it's globally valid. OSS is the only people who get blown out of the water.

I like Microsoft's hardware solution - low-tech rear projection, and dirt cheap IR cameras for tracking.

This slashdot submission is just a shill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20521965)

Newlaunches.com is a paid product placement website.

It is for people that get their news and facts from late-night infomercials. It is for people that think the "special information inserts" in their newspaper are real news articles.

What is this doing on slashdot?

It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 7 years ago | (#20521991)

Is MS licensing Grumman on this one? Who owns the patents on this sort of system? In a litigious age where the entire industry for force feedback joysticks for gaming collapsed over IP issues, who owns the IP becomes a critical issue.

If the future really is a big ass table [youtube.com] , then the question of who owns the rights to license that future are going to be a big deal.

Can anyone help me find the relevant filings on this technology? Is there a cross-licensing agreement between Grumman and MS?

This is actually getting quite interesting. I had only heard about the MS product prior to this.

--
Toro

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (1)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 7 years ago | (#20522023)

Microsoft's was only a demo / prototype too. Northrup-Grumman's is being delivered commercially.

And NG is going to have filed patents. Guaranteed. I just hope their filings pre-date Microsoft's.

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 7 years ago | (#20522185)

You know, though I dislike MS, I honestly don't care who filed first, so long as a bunch of litigation doesn't sink another piece of innovative, if superfluous, technology.

(BTW, part of the process of filing a patent is establishing "proof of concept [wikipedia.org] ." For technologies such as this, that usually means physically producing at least a scripted demonstration model before you can even complete your application. A true prototype is often far in excess of what is needed to file, though, and you certainly don't need a shipping product to establish a patent filing.)

--
Toro

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (1)

scuba_steve_1 (849912) | about 7 years ago | (#20522777)

Couldn't answer, but I will say this - I work for NGC...at the HQ facility where we created and showcase this technology...along with a wide range of other interactive information and intelligence fusion systems...and we have been marketing and selling touchtable products and services for years. DoD uses our system for a wide range of applications...and I also wondered what was up when I saw the MS announcement earlier in the year. Fortunately, we have several hundred lawyers...so no worries.

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | about 7 years ago | (#20522857)

DoD uses our system for a wide range of applications...

The main application is looking just as cool as in the movies! Seriously, this technology is wicked! I'd want to be some badass DoD employee pinpointing things on interactive displays. Preferably on transparent vertical screens, like in that james bond movie. And some others, but I forgot the names.

Also, this is one of the places where you wonder how it can be patented. I mean, this is no revolution, it is a development that has just been waiting to happen for ages. Touchscreen devices have been around for years and years now, as have been displaying maps on computers. The only limiting factor from these cool toys being developed on a large scale was the quality and size of the touchscreens available, the processing power to recalculate maps in real time, and some smart way to create the interface. Only the last part can be the innovation here I guess, but patenting an interface is not something I would deem useful, there are too many ways to work around it.

Hey Pimpimpim (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 7 years ago | (#20524799)

Are you the guy behind PhrasR? I don't know how to get in touch with you, but if you are, reply here... Or email me (see profile)...

Re:Hey Pimpimpim (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | about 7 years ago | (#20524979)

Short answer: no.

Long answer: I've never heard of it before, but the PhrasR website is on http://www.pimpampum.net/phrasr/archive.php [pimpampum.net] , and they have their contact info right out there on their front page at http://www.pimpampum.net [pimpampum.net] . And gosh, it's "info@...". This wasn't much effort, didn't even have to do a whois! Please do it yourself next time, or your nerd status will be revoked! Just joking...

Anyway, these are pretty creative people, nice website, thank you for pointing me to it!

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20525035)

How soon until GM makes it available in one of their civvie vehicles? Screw OnStar, I want a touch screen windows so I can send messages to other motorists stuck in traffic.

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20523195)

There have been touchtable type designs for as long as touch screens have been around. Most don't use any patentable touch technology (exceptions include DiamondTouch), so it is generally a design patent issue, not a utility patent issue. I can't speak to the NGC/Touchtable one, except to say that I know for certain it does not use the same technology as the MS table. As a design patent issue, one would be hard pressed to pick any particular design and carry out an infringement suit against the company because there is a ton of prior art. The same does not hold true to the gesture recognition & collaboration software packages in use on any given touch design. Those include utility patentable items, and tend to be very well protected (and here you can bet that there is no collision between MS / NGC / DiamondTouch / any of the other major competitors). Of course that also means that each system tends to be relatively proprietary (which is generally considered to be unfortunate).

Re:It's not MS Surface, who owns the IP? (1)

adwarf (1002867) | about 7 years ago | (#20524711)

The touch table was developed by Applied Minds, which then spun off Touch Table inc. [touchtable.com] Its been out since 2005 and uses different technology than Microsoft. Northrop Grumman is doing the software, integration, support, setup, delivery, etc., but didn't make the actual table.

B&W (1)

Eponymous Bastard (1143615) | about 7 years ago | (#20522041)

Finally, and interface I can play Black and White with.

Think about it.

Seen It (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | about 7 years ago | (#20522063)

Sorry but I cant find the link, but my friend showed ma a video last year on a DIY site with a similar thing: THe person had a projector and camera pointing down on a table, and played Warcraft with it, which is about all it is good for.

Re:Seen It (1)

BigMike1020 (943654) | about 7 years ago | (#20524065)

THe person had a projector and camera pointing down on a table, and played Warcraft with it, which is about all it is good for.
Which one? Warcraft, or the touch screen?

Re:Seen It (1)

The -e**(i*pi) (1150927) | about 7 years ago | (#20524173)

The touch Screen is only good for Warcraft/Starcraft, Warcraft/Starcraft is a great game. (although not high tec any more)

And dear big boobie Miss ATC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522065)

Could you please touch the center of the table hon...thanks

Government Contractors (1)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | about 7 years ago | (#20522321)

It's made by Northrup Grummen, which means it's much like the Microsoft one, but continues even more more proprietary, but antiquated parts and software, and costs about 100 times more.

Re:Government Contractors (1)

westlake (615356) | about 7 years ago | (#20522811)

It's made by Northrup Grummen, which means it's much like the Microsoft one, but continues even more more proprietary, but antiquated parts and software, and costs about 100 times more.

A tabletop display will take a lot of physical abuse. Spills, cigarette burns. MS Surface uses rear projection and IR cameras to track position and movement. Simple, reliable, and cheap.

Re:Government Contractors (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 years ago | (#20523149)

But it can survive a near miss by a tactical nuclear weapon.

Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522347)

Bah, they should wait two more months for the price drop on it.

what the FAA really needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20522667)

is a big screening/touching table!

Myth - Broderbund (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 7 years ago | (#20523267)

I think Broderbund has first dibs on that with their reflective visionary cauldron thing.

hey... (1)

Macrosoft0 (1128625) | about 7 years ago | (#20524383)

... is it just me, or do those resolutions sound a little low for such large screens? the native res on my 19'' is 1440x900

IWB? (1)

bir0 (315616) | about 7 years ago | (#20524959)

After watching the video it looks to me like an Interactive White Board laying down with the exception they are using fingers to control it rather than a stylus.

In the video it shows that the image is projected from the roof mounted projector, it doesn't have a display in the surface.

These are basically already in thousands of classrooms around the world aren't they?

This looks like it is just an IWB laying down and they are probably charging squillions more.

Obligatory (1)

proidiot (747008) | about 7 years ago | (#20525135)

....but does it run Linux?
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