Perceptive Pixel Founder Talks Multitouch Future
CREDIT: Perceptive Pixel
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Notoriety has already lost its charm for Jefferson Han, founder of Perceptive Pixel and multitouch interface pioneer. 2008 was the year for fame, when the entire country watched CNN anchors use his giant touchscreen panels during election night, and when Time Magazine named Han one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World." 2011, on the other hand, is the year for technological development.
Here at the SIGGRAPH 2011 interactive technology conference, Han unveiled the largest projected capacitive multitouch panel . More than simply a wall-sized iPad, a touch screen of this size enables a new kind of interaction. This 82 inch screen marks the first step towards a truly communal computing device that multiple people can use simultaneously.
Han took some time out of his hectic conference schedule to sit down with InnovationNewsDaily. He discussed how multitouch has changed since the release of the iPhone, what's next for Perceptive Pixel and why an 82 inch screen is just the start.
InnovationNewsDaily: When you founded Perceptive Pixel, the word "multitouch" was academic jargon. Now, everyone is familiar with the iPhone interface. How has that change effected you, as a multitouch designer?
Jefferson Han: Five years ago, I had to explain to people what multitouch was. And it's amazing how the world has changed. It's wonderful that people finally understand the potential of going beyond the keyboard and mouse .
I think we did a very good job in the early days of convincing people this was a powerful technique, but now it changes the pitch, since we need to convince people what to use this for. Show people that this is useful for more than simply novelty multitouch. Now we focus on how to get real work done.
InnovationNewsDaily: These days, it's natural interface isn't just multitouch. It's also gesture, voice, different haptic devices. How does Perceptive Pixel fit into a world where multitouch is just a small part of a larger interface ecosystem?
Han: The company has never been just about multitouch. If we shove it down people's throats, that doesn't help anyone. Now that we've got people thinking beyond the keyboard and mouse, what other interfaces can we give people to solve problems.
We're big believers in multitouch plus styles. With the stylus, you get back some of the precision of the mouse. When you do work, you usually have a tool, a pencil or a paint brush, and you manipulate the object with the other hand. By combining the two, you get the best of both worlds, and it becomes very powerful. Artists like it, and can use it for content creation.
InnovationNewsDaily: You just debuted your largest screen yet, 82 inches. Why does the screen need to be that big? And what do those large screens allow that smaller screens, like an iPad, can't do?
Han: You want an interface where multiple people can work on it at the same time . It doesn't make sense to have multiple mouses or keyboards plugged into it. Multitouch is very important for multiple users, and you need this size. People huddle around it just like as if it was a white board.
It's all about the person, the user, and multiple users with multiple devices. Collaboration is a very interesting space right now. We're keenly aware of what the next big thing is, and we've been working very hard on it. Collaboration is the area that needs a lot of help.
InnovationNewsDaily: What's the biggest technical challenge you face right now? What's the next hurdle you hope to clear?
Han: Right now, the screen can't label which finger is which. The biggest problem is that they don't know which touch is which. That's a holy grail, to figure out more context. Which touch is which? Are they from the same user? Is it the same user? Identity is one of the biggest issues facing interfaces right now.