Apr 26, 2009

Giving Healthcare a Digital "Touch" via Microsoft

According to the PR release from Microsoft, Texas Health Resources and Microsoft partner Infusion Development have developed a prototype to assist with doctor-patient communication and collaboration:


Medhost has created an emergency department dashboard that can assist medical professionals decision-making process more efficiently:


Vectorform developed an application to assist children in rehabilitation at the Cook Children's Health System in Fort Worth, Texas. The application allows the rehabilitation specialist design their own evaluations for patients:


The only drawback is that the Surface has a very high price tag. I think I'll stick with HP TouchSmart PC projects with my students!

Good news about the San Jose Interactive Displays Conference (that I couldn't attend)

Sadly, I was unable to attend the Interactive Displays conference that was held last week in San Jose, California. Jeff Han, the guy in the video clip in my sidebar, was one of the keynote presenters. I really wish I could have seen - and touched - the action!

Update (4/27/09) from Thomas Hansen, a member of NUI Group, who attended IDC:

It was certainly an interesting event. I got to talk (albeit briefly) to both Andy Wilson and Jeff Han. Both of whom produce very inspiring and world class UI/HCI research on a consistent basis. Further, it was a great honor to meet some of the other members of the nuigroup community in person, some of whom where inspiring not only because of their amazing intellect and artistic talents, but especially due to their friendliness, benevolence, and maturity."

Here are a few excerpts from people who were fortunate to attend and then write about the experience:

Putting our arms around the future of touch Ina Fried , CNET 4/23/09

"..if you used one of the interactive displays here to show a heat map of this industry, it would glow red hot. That's because touch displays, for years relegated to kiosks and industrial uses, are quickly becoming mainstream. Hewlett-Packard and
Dell already have touch-capable machines, while Microsoft is set to make gesture input standard with Windows 7...For his own part, Han said he was inspired by seeing a PBS documentary in the early 1980s that showed Microsoft researcher Bill Buxton, then at the University of Toronto, using multitouch to compose music on a computer. The computer itself was a green screen with an ancient processor and little memory, but the key underlying concept was already there..

"Sometimes it takes that long for these things to marinate and gestate," Han said....And while things are now taking off, Han urged the crowd not to forsake quality in the rush to take advantage of a hot market. "That will ruin it and mess it up for all of us, and that would be a real shame," Han said."

Interactive Displays Conference Highlights Kevin Arthur, Touch Usability 4/22/09

..He (Jeff Han) showed a great clip from an early 80s TV show called Bits and Bytes that featured a young Bill Buxton demonstrating some of his tablet work at the University of Toronto...Jeff Han's point in showing this clip was not just to share what inspired him as a kid to pursue computer science as a career. He also wanted to make the point that none of this stuff is really new. He urged the audience not to jump on whatever tech is cool this week, but to be aware of the history and to do the research. Be thoughtful and careful about what you're making. He said one of his fears with the multitouch craze is that the waters will be poisoned by bad and poorly conceived implementations. He said "don't add noise" to the ecosystem by using terms sloppily -- like "multitouch"...

The importance of being more thoughtful and mindful of prior work are not exactly new to most of us with design, HCI, or CS backgrounds, but the audience here is largely made up of marketing or other business types, I believe, who sometimes tend to get a bit carried away, you might say. I mean no disrespect to my friends in marketing..."

Interactive Displays Conference San Jose Harry van der Veen, 4/25/09
Big thumbs up for Pira tech for managing to get so many multi-touch industry professionals (Wacom, Mindstorm, NextWindow, 3M, Jeff Han (Perceptive Pixel), LG, Tyco Electronics, Stantum and more) and hobbyists together."

Apr 25, 2009

How soon will we see interactive information visualization for multi-touch & gesture systems?

The field of information visualization is growing. Until recently, most visualizations were created for use on a single PC or larger screen, allowing for interaction by only one user at a time. I have a feeling that this will be changing in the very near future.

Why? Interactive duo and multi-touch interfaces are becoming more common, and now come in all sizes of screens, from the iPhone, the Surface, and CNN's multi-touch "Magic Wall". People of all ages play interactive games on the Wii, often on large flat-panel displays. In my opinion, the time is right for those developing applications for the InfoViz world to think about harnessing the power of multi-touch.

Below is a picture of the front page of the Visual Complexity website. If you go to the site, you can select a visualization, and then explore it more in detail, as each picture links to a web-page that provides background information about the visualization project, the artist or team behind the project, and links to the project's website.

I took a look at a variety of the examples posted on the Information Complexity website, and think many would be enhanced by a transformation to a multi-touch, gesture, bi-manual, or duo/multi user system. I'm interested in learning what others think about this. If you are working on a collaborative information visualization project, feel free to add a comment and post a link.

Here is a a nice quote from the website:

"Functional visualizations are more than innovative statistical analyses and computational algorithms. They must make sense to the user and require a visual language system that uses colour, shape, line, hierarchy and composition to communicate clearly and appropriately, much like the alphabetic and character-based languages used worldwide between humans."

Matt Woolman
Digital Information Graphics

Update: I did a search for "multi-touch" on the Visual Complexity website and found a couple of interactive applications:

Reactable (I've posted about this system a few times!)
(Reactable website)


(Wirmachenbunt Website)

Apr 24, 2009

SMART Table in the Classroom: Tom Barret's Journey

Tom Barret is a teacher who is using a SMART Table in his classroom. His recent post, "SMART Table in my classroom- Days 2-5: Teething Problems" provides some insight about potential problems teachers might face when introducing this sort of technology to students.

(Tom blogs about educational technology, including topics such as "
Using the Nintendo Wii to Support My Numeracy Lesson")

Here are Tom's first-glance comments about the SMART Table:

"A couple of things that I have learned already:

There is a long way to go in terms of the toolkit and software development"

"The table is very robust."

"There is a place in the primary classroom for this type of technology, it feels natural to have this style of technology in my classroom. "

"My instincts tell me their is a future in this style of work for kids."

"Multi-touch and the behind the scenes technology that is needed to operate it, can be very temperamental."

"Children take to the medium very easily and naturally."

"They can be networked"

"3rd party software can run on them but you would lose the 40 touch capability"

"For 9 and 10 year olds (upper junior), the optimum number for using the Table is 4. Any more and it gets a little congested, limiting the screen real estate that you can use. This is crucial, you might be able to get 6 Year 5s around it but they will not get significant enough access to the surface and so the learning activity. "

Apr 22, 2009

From the NUITEQ (Natural User Interface) Gallery, via Harry van der Veen

Kids take to multi-touch interaction naturally!

The following photos are from Harry van der Veen's Multi-touch blog. (Harry was one of the founding members of the NUI-Group, and also is the CEO of NUITEQ-Natural User Interface)

The last two pictures are of the HP TouchSmart running NUI Suite Snowflake software, developed by the Natural User Interface Europe AB (NUITEQ) for think LCD, Plasma, and FT displays.

Dell Studio One 19 Touch Zone App by Fingertapps: The Video

Here is the video demonstration of Dell Studio One 19 Touch Zone, developed by Fingertapps, a New Zealand software company:

The Dell Studio One with Fingertapp's multi-touch natural user interface software is due for launch soon, according to Ben Wilde and Dave Brebner, of Fingertapps. Here is a link to a recent Engadget article by Paul Miller: Dell demos multitouch on the Studio One 29 (with additional videos)


Apr 21, 2009

NUI-Group's Christian Moore Interview-Podcast on the Interactive Display 2009 Conference website

As I write this post, the 2009 Interactive Displays conference is underway in San Jose, California. The home page of the conference website provides a series of interviews of many of the conference participants and presenters, including Chris Moore, a member of the NUI group. Chris discusses the importance of the open-source NUI (natural user interface) community in moving interactive display and NUI-based technology forward.

Interactive Displays 2009 Conference Website

Interview Participants:
Mats Johansson - EON Reality
Guillaume Largillier - Stantum
Christian Moore- NUI Group
Brent Bushnell- Tapcode
Steven Bathiche - Microsoft
Jerry Bertrand - Microscent
Henry Kaufman- Tactable

If you are at the conference and you have some video clips to share of a presentation, demonstration, or anything else that might be of interest, please give me the link so I can share it on my blog.

Below are some pictures from the companies represented by the people who were interviewed for the Interactive Displays 2009 conference:

Eon Reality


Microsoft's Surface



I don't usually put company logos on my blog, but if you are a visiting my blog searching for links to companies that are involved with interactive display technologies, this will save you some time. (I received no payment for this gesture.)