Multitouch has more or less turned into a buzzword these days – sometimes, its implementation makes sense and comes out as pretty useful (see the iPhone and Microsoft’s Surface), however, other implementations turn out be debatable. There is another implementation out there, one that received a lot less attention from the press than the aforementioned cases: Jeff Han’s Perceptive Pixel.Microsoft, and more so Apple, might be stealing all the thunder when it comes to multitouch technology, but Perceptive Pixel has been chugging along undercover just fine with their massive multitouch displays, which are now seeing use in CNN’s coverage on the United States primaries. Cue the Magic Wall.
CNN correspondent John King stood in front of a gigantic display, showing a map of Florida, and as he tapped on the various counties on the screen, their results would pop up. He could pinch and zoom graphics.
“It’s a stupendous way to explain a lot of complicated data,” says David Bohrman, chief producer of CNN’s political coverage. “Fundamentally, our job is to explain things to people, and we need to do it visually. This lets us do it naturally, without a keyboard or mouse getting in the way.”
Jeff Han’s response was honest. “News wasn’t the first market we thought of, but it’s an interesting application. Once the election calms down, you can see how this might work for other kinds of news, like financial, weather or sports.” It’s not known how much CNN has paid for the device, but according to The Washington Post, a stripped down, basic version of the device costs USD 100000.
YouTube has a video showing election results in Texas which looks just stunning.
Whatever they paid, it seems that it was a great investment. Because of the “Magic Wall” and John King’s expertise with it, CNN is now the only channel I watch for election coverage.
I’m sure it won’t be too long before large multi-touch devices like these hit the consumer market at reasonable prices. I can’t imagine what practical use we would have for them, but I know I’d love to have a few in my house.