Build Your Own Tabletop Interactive Multi-touch Computer

Posted on April 8, 2009  Comments (9)

This is a fantastic Do-It_Yourself (DIY) engineering story. Very interesting, definitely go read the whole article: Build Your Own Multitouch Surface Computer

First, some acknowledgments are in order. Virtually all the techniques used to create this table were discovered at the Natural User Interface Group website, which serves as a sort of repository for information in the multitouch hobbyist community.

In order for our setup to work, we needed a camera that senses infrared light, but not visible light. It sounds expensive, but you’d be surprised. In this section, we’ll show you how we created an IR camera with excellent resolution and frame-rate for only $35—the price of one PlayStation 3 Eye camera. “But that’s not an IR camera,” you say? We’ll show you how to fix that.

As it turns out, most cameras are able to sense infrared light. If you want to see first-hand proof that this is the case, try this simple experiment: First, find a cheap digital camera. Most cell phone cameras are perfect for this. Next, point it at the front of your TV’s remote control. Then, while watching the camera’s display, press the buttons on the remote. You’ll see a bluish-white light that is invisible to the naked eye. That’s the infrared light used by the remote to control the TV.

Like the computer, the projector we used for the build was something we scavenged up. The major concern for a projector to use in this kind of system is throw distance—the ratio between projection distance and image size. Short-throw projectors, which are sold by all the major projector brands, work the best for this kind of project, because they can be set up at the bottom of the cabinet and aimed directly at the surface. Unfortunately, they also tend to be more expensive.

Ever thrifty, we went with a projector we could use for free: an older home-theater projector borrowed from a friend. Because of the longer throw distance on this model, we had to mount the projector near the top of the cabinet, facing down, and use a mirror to reflect the image up onto the screen. For this we ordered a front-side mirror (a mirror with the reflective surface on the front of the glass, rather than behind it) to eliminate any potential “ghosting” problems, caused by dual reflections from the front and back of the glass in an ordinary mirror.

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9 Responses to “Build Your Own Tabletop Interactive Multi-touch Computer”

  1. Jim
    April 12th, 2009 @ 5:45 pm

    that is truely amazing.

    Absolutly loved this

  2. Marty
    April 14th, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

    Wonderful! My 16 year old nephew is looking into building something similar this summer (if the summer job comes along to provide him with the necessary funds) I will definitely forward this on to him! Thank you!

  3. Anonymous
    May 14th, 2009 @ 3:29 pm

    Good Source for project on technology. This is what i would really like to do.. Thanks for sharing the mind blowing video.

    Best Regards,
    Leif

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  8. Phil
    April 11th, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

    Pretty creative use/recycling of an old projector there – might try that with an old one of mine I have sitting on a shelf … if I ever find the time to pursue it. ;)

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