Kickstart this Multitouch Desk ComputerMicrosoft’s Surface is great, but it also costs $8,000. Want to get your hands on a large multitouch desk for less? Well, you can. Hackers have been hacking them together for years.
But if you don’t want to deal with the incomplete instructions, limited support and general lack of quality that comes from doing a complex hardware and software project alone, you need to support this Kickstarter.
Called the Playsurface, this multitouch desk relies on a combination or IR LEDs, a projector, and a webcam to implement compelling touch technology. Because all the electronics are away from the glass top, it can take quite a beating. And because of how the technology works, you can actually track more fingers than you can with most tablets. The Playsurface is meant to be multiplayer.
The table works like this: A projector is mounted at the bottom of the desk/coffee table. A mirror bounces the image at a right angle upwards and on to the bottom of the translucent tabletop. A webcam looks at the mirror also, since webcams are able to perceive a bit of infrared light. A series or infrared LEDs are mounted facing the tabletop. When your finger touches the top, it creates a hotspot of IR light bouncing off your finger. the webcam picks this up and creates a touch event there. Presto, you have a multitouch table.
The Playsurface does integrate one major innovation into their design: the processing of the webcam footage is handled by a dedicated board that then feeds the touch points to the main computer. This means that you won’t be sacrificing much of your machine’s processing power towards figuring out where the touch events were, meaning less lag and better performance overall.
The project still very much needs your help. They are aiming for $40,000 to finish developing the project, but right now they have a mere $4,782. Ordering a complete Playsurface is expensive--without the projector, you can get one otherwise complete for $650--but it is quite the piece to have in your home. So if you’ve ever been fascinated by multitouch, consider giving to the project today.