PIRP: Low cost multi-touch for the masses

Esteban and his partner Javier sent us this demo of a $20 multi-touch screen they built as a thesis project. It’s quite cool. This one is a few inches across and can sense multiple inputs and even pressure. He writes:

Javier Jorge and me started with this project one year ago for our thesis. We are Computer Engineer students at the “Facultad de Ciencias Exactas Fisicas y Naturales” of Cordoba University, in Argentina. Our initial idea was to develop a multi touch technology similar to the one Jeff Han did, but trying to make it fit in a LCD screen without increasing size too much.

The prototype seen in the video is a proof of concept of the technology we made. It has an active area (where the multi touch is sensed) of 7cmx7cm.

It basically uses IR light emitted from the back to “see” the objects that touches the screen. We can detect any IR-reflective object, specially, fingertips. The functionality is similar to Microsoft’s ThinSight, but we don’t use the IR detector grid. We are keeping the sensing technology confidentially for the moment.

The technology can be integrated to an LCD screen. We didn’t have the time to do it (but we tested it). Because IR light can go through the LCD, we can place our sensing technology behind it.

The prototype dimensions does not reflect the size that this technology requires, the sensing technology could be 3mm thin and it requires another space to place some processing hardware.

The prototype cost us around 60pesos (~US$20). We calculate that a 20” should not cost more than US$100 (without including the LCD screen).

We are looking for some company that can invest in this technology, we want to finish it and make a product. I think that in 1.5 a final prototype could be ready and in 2 years a product.