A Look at Maximum PC’s Multitouch Surface Computer

For many do-it-yourselfer’s out there, multi-touch displays may have been something you thought was out of your league. In reality, Maximum PC’s research guys have shown us that we can make a Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR for short) table for around $350. That is fantastic news because you can be the proud owner of your own touch-capable PC without having to spend $12,000 on the equivalent Microsoft Hardware product. In short, this makes it easier for developers such as myself to build our own touch PC’s and start working on the interfaces of tomorrow.

Many of the methods they used cut considerable corners, and with a bit more thought and research it would be easy to see that a few tweaks here and there would not only make it stronger and easier to make but also cheaper. In their implementation they used IR LED’s all around the table and a variation onf vellum and silicon to form an impression system for the surface. And while these solutions were quick, cheap and easy, there is another solution which is a bit more efficient in my opinion, and I will detail it below.

In my combined solution, there would be a thicker sheet of acrylic with one edge cut at a 45 degree angle. then using mounting hardware along that edge, we would mount a medium density amount of LED’s (one every 3/4 of an inch) that work at 850nm wavelength. Then we would obtain a sheet of vellum (or white tissue paper possibly is better) and press it against the bottom of the LED mounted sheet of acrylic, and sandwich it with a thinner piece of acrylic (not necessarily as polished of edges). By sandwhiching the vellum (tissue paper) we reduce the noise and provide a more even continuous surface of paper (making it seem more screen like) as well as enhance the touch capabilites of the screen. The single row of medium density LED count allows for fewer LED’s overall and allows for a cleaner hardware design, less interference and a clearer image when using a PS3 eye toy. In the eye toy, using a double or triple layer of colour film negative, it would filter out all light but the IR light cleanly. So we would have a noiseless, clean table surface and a clearer camera image. These improvements would overall reduce the cost of the project by significantly reducing the hardware cost for the LED’s and mounting them. I plan to put them to use when I get started on my surface HTPC (summer project). I will keep my blog posted as we move into the summer months!

Funny Web 2.0 Video and Programming Ideas

I have been into following all these Web 2.0 news bits lately so closely that I am slowly becoming a part of them. I have begun Twittering (as you may have noticed from my side bar, quite a nice addition I might add) as well as am an active member on a variety of Web 2.0 sites. I have been getting engaged in them to figure out how they do it, what makes a company like that successful.

As a developer, I would love to create something in my spare time that other people find of use, and thus I am considering working on my pet project to include a variety of features that are Web 2.0 friendly, maybe create a mashup of a few services. Aside from the great personal experience, a new service might have the potential to actually help people enjoy the web to its fullest. The service is going to be based around the movie information and review site, however I am looking at going with tighter integration into other services, such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and others. Will this work? Will I ever get around to putting myself into programming mode? Do I have the skills to do something like that? Those are the questions, and I can say the answer is yes, but not right now. Exam season is creeping up again, and I need to concentrate on those. Have fun coding, and look for some new code and papers in the repositories.

Windows 7 (A Quick Look)

So early last week I managed to get into the Windows 7 public beta (unfortunately, they didn’t open it for my level of MSDN/TechNet subscription) and I decided to give it a shot. And thus far, it is like every other beta product I have tried from Microsoft: love at first run. Right from the start, the operating system felt smooth and responsive, managed to take care of all my driver requirements (except for my webcam, cheap Chinese brand, low driver support). Apart from the hundreds of technical improvements (no more Windows 3.0 fonts dialog, yay!) they really brought some powerful new software design concepts to the table, their biggest being the “superbar” (their name, not mine) that replaced the aging legacy taskbar. It truely feels like what Windows should have been for years.

Anyways, I will be doing a more in depth review of Windows 7 when I get to finish playing with all the features, and start to push through the pile of assignments growing on my desk. So, hopefully sometime next week I will have my full website back in the swing of things, and be back open for business in all areas. I did re-add some of the links to the repository and forum for those of you who are just itching to get your hands on the build of the game that I did a month and a half ago (haha, I kid but I will release a newer build soon, this one including audio, fast rendering and a new tileset. Exciting!). And as usual, I encourage people to talk in the comments or on the forum!

Total Website Refresh

Hey, sorry I haven’t had much of a chance to post in the last while, but there has been too much going on to remember to log some time on my blog! With that being said, I’ve decided to upgrade to the newest version of WordPress, and by upgrade I mean take all my old content down and start from scratch. The site was starting to stagnate anyways, besides, this will give me a chance to try my hand at writing a WordPress plugin again that might be of use (and not out of date). Some of the posts will be redone over time, as I actively start focusing on my projects again.

My first project priority will be a new project (I decided to put the CMS on hold after discovering some already existing fancy ones that do more than I needed, but that’s for another post) that I’ve dreamed up as of late. It’s going to be a movie database/user review site. I haven’t ever found a decent site for users to rate movies and make top 10 lists and write reviews, plus it will be a good project to get me back into PHP and XHTML. My hardware project is still in the design phase (mostly because I can’t find a decently priced supplier of the hardware components I need), but that project will be a bigger one once I get building. This school thing is what gets in my way of making progress on anything, haha.

Regardless, I hope you like the new (cleaner, more ‘secure’ apparently — like that ever lasts in web development) website. The forum still exists and the repository and other resources will all be linked up soon for you to enjoy. I’m also adding a Coder’s Corner section, where I can post awesome (in my mind anyways) snippets of code that I’ve produced over the years, and I will encourage readers to do the same! We’re all in this together, programming should be as collaborative as possible, regardless of where you are in the world.