Multi-touch control systems, popularized by Apple’s iPhone, and gesture recognition systems, such as the dazzling computer interface that Tom Cruise used in Minority Report, are slowly-but-surely becoming commonplace technology. And these üeber control technologies are finding their way into architectural applications.
Jeff Han made a big splash at a Ted Talk in 2006 where he publicly showed his work from NYU. He went on to found Perceptive Pixel, which produces highly refined multi-touch wall interfaces. Make sure to check out the demo reel on their home page; it is difficult to understand the power and scale of these interactive surfaces through still pictures.
Gesturetek produces gesture recognition systems for presentation, information and entertainment projects, and has been successful at bringing the technology to a wide commercial base. They use a variety of input technologies to let people use hand and body motions to control dynamic computer content.
Interactive bar top installation at San Diego club.
Interactive, multi-touch tabletop surfaces at NYC visitor center. Check out the video here.
Interactive table top with “koi pond” software at restaurant.
Microsoft has made some commercial headway with its Surface product. A complete prepackaged table unit, Surface has found some commercial success in hospitality and retail installations. But Microsoft clearly sees the architectural-scale applications for multi-touch (see my earlier post here).
Finally, a startup company called Oblong Industries has continued development on the actual Minority Report interface (one of the founders was an adviser to the film). Whereas the above three suppliers all use direct touch to control 2D surfaces, Oblong adds a true third dimension to their technology by using special gloves or finger pointers on the user’s hands. Again, it is almost impossible to understand how this interface works from still images; check out the video from their Sundance installation showing how they clip and edit movies in a live, on-the-fly pastiche.
These are the sorts of future technologies that the stale lighting industry won’t even recognize as an innovation opportunity for years. It leaves a huge, gaping hole: How do architects incorporate these features into their buildings without having to suffer through a risky, super-expensive science project?