MultiTouch announced on Tuesday that the Philip K. Dick future seen in Minority Report is here. Actually, that's not true at all, but the style of computer interaction in that movie was the first thing I thought of when watching the demo of the MultiTouch Cell.
This is a large LCD touch-screen display which, according to MultiTouch, is the world's first modular multitouch LCD screen. The screen is available in 32-inch and 46-inch versions in 1080p, and an "HD ready" (1366x768) version at 32 inches. Two or more screens (according MultiTouch, the amount is only limited by imagination and budget) can be combined to form a larger display and be used as a wall, floor, or table display.
The screens (cells) can be positioned in landscape or portrait modes and are compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. The screens can be used by multiple users simultaneously, with each person using both hands.
According to MultiTouch, other touch screens are only able to recognize each point of the fingertips touching the screen. The MultiTouch screen, however, sees that each fingertip is connected to a hand. So with two hands on the screen, rather than seeing 10 discreet points of interaction (each fingertip), it sees 2 unique points (each hand). This allows the screen to accept more complex interactions.
The demo shows a very impressive interaction between two users and eight running videos. Each user is moving, scaling, and playing multiple videos simultaneously. Since the screen runs are 60 frames per second it can accept this level of complex interaction.
As for pricing, well it's not consumer-level stuff here. The cheapest of the three solutions--the HD-ready 32-inch version--will cost around $7,000, with the 1080p 46-incher coming in at about $15,000.
More exciting than this actual product, however, is the technology underneath it. Multitouch technology is nothing really new ,as it dates back to the early '80s with the current and most popular implementation today being the iPhone. Also, Microsoft recently showed off a very impressive display of its Surface multitouch technology.
This is the most probable future for mainstream computer interaction right now. In a few years there will be a generation of children born who will grow up having never used a mouse to interact with a computer.