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A big-screen touch screen from the defense sector

Northrop Grumman is making the rounds with TouchTable technology that the FAA has adopted for cybersecurity duty.

TouchTable, large version
The TouchTable lets users wave their hands over the projected image to shift the view sideways or to zoom in and out. Northrop Grumman

Microsoft made a splash earlier this year with a tabletop PC called Milan. Designers and developers there might have been spared building their 85 early prototypes, however, if they'd just gone shopping at defense contractor Northrop Grumman instead of Ikea.

As it turns out, Northrop Grumman--best known for missile systems and other military gear--for several years has been hawking the similar TouchTable as part of what it calls an "integrated collaboration environment." It'll be showing off the technologies next week at a defense conference in London, and last month delivered a TouchTable to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The TouchTable is a projection display with, as the name implies, a touch-sensitive screen. Move your hand across the table to shift the image sideways; move your hands together or apart to zoom in and out. (Kinda like the iPhone, really.) The ICE setup, meanwhile, taps into satellite imagery and marries that with maps and other data sources.

TouchTable, small version
Northrop Grumman's Jammie McCoy (left) demonstrates the TouchTable to Mike Brown, the director of the FAA's Office of Information Systems Security. Northrop Grumman

The FAA plans to install the table tech in its Cyber Security Incident Response Center. The TouchTable could let security staff control CAD images of a building where a cyber "event" is happening or access relevant data through a live feed from a security system, according to Northrop Grumman.

The uses aren't always out of the 24 playbook. The military-industrial giant has also supplied a TouchTable to CNN for Wolf Blitzer's The Situation Room program.

There are two versions of the TouchTable--one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution), the other with a 45-inch screen (1920x1080 resolution). The larger system also includes dual external displays. The technology was created by the Los Angeles-area design firm Applied Minds, and it's marketed by the eponymous Pasadena, Calif.-based company TouchTable.