As Seen on “Three Rivers”, the Multi-Touch Screen

So I finally was able to check out CBS’ “Three Rivers” last night, mostly to see how Pittsburgh was portrayed on the small screen.  And to see if my beloved Oram’s donuts showed up in the hospital break room somewhere.

One key feature of the show, as with most other TV dramas like CSI, is the fancy light show of technology in the background.   The interior of Three Rivers Hospital looks like Bill Gates’ den, with video displays and monitors all over the place.  There’s obviously a lot of cool stuff there, but one always wonders if the technology their using actually exists or if it’s just something to catch your eye.

Something that immediately caught my eye was a scene in which a doctor walks up to a monitor displaying an x-ray, and enlarges it by touching the screen with both hands and moving them apart.  I immediately remembered seeing the exact same thing in real life and had to look it up.

Touch screens are literally everywhere now: the ATM, your phone, your voting station.  However nearly all touch screens are designed to only handle one point of contact at a time.  The computer reads the X and Y axis coordinates of the point made by your finger at only one location at a time.  More sophisticated software allows for tracking movement along the X/Y axis which allows you to scroll through screens on your iPod Touch, for example.  Still, only one finger at a time though.

Jeff Han has developed technology in 2006 that allows for multiple touch inputs at a time, allowing users to use their whole hand to rotate an image in space for example.  Bill Gates actually featured the technology at a 2008 conference, and Steve Jobs is talking about using multi-touch technology on a tablet computer to read magazines, books and newspapers.  Other developers are embracing the technology as well, and there is video of Windows 7 running multi-touch software on a Dell laptop.

So in case you were wondering “can they really do that?” the answer is “oh yeah!”  It’s extremely cool to see actual technology at work and not just as the “that’d-be-cool-if-it-existed” stuff you usually find on TV.

Be sure to check out the YouTube video below.

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Posted on October 12, 2009, in Local, Tech News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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