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Displays Toys United States

FAA Gets a Big-Screen Touch Table 130

Posted by kdawson
from the every-situation-room-needs-one dept.
Matt writes "Northrop Grumman, best known for missile systems and other military gear, has for years been selling the TouchTable as part of what it calls an ' integrated collaboration environment.' They delivered their TouchTable to the US Federal Aviation Administration last month and will showcase their technologies next week at a defense conference in London. There are two versions of the TouchTable; one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution), the other with a 45-inch screen (1920x1080 resolution). Moving a hand across the surface pans the display' two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in. This simple interface allows users easily to change a view from miles above the Earth to a detailed layout of a single city block."
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FAA Gets a Big-Screen Touch Table

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  • by blantonl (784786) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:33PM (#20521757) Homepage
    Sounds to me like a massive iPhone. I wonder if any patents were violated with this thing?
    • by Xzzy (111297)
      It uses a projector to put the image on the table.

      Seems kind of backwards to me but I bet it's cheaper than getting an LCD of that size. Only similarity to the iPhone seems to be the way you use touch to navigate, but ideas like that have been floating around for years now.
    • by SEMW (967629)

      Sounds to me like a massive iPhone. I wonder if any patents were violated with this thing?
      Possibly, but only by Apple. Table-top multi-touch interfaces have been around long before the iphone. E.g. see this video [ted.com].
      • by pben (22734)
        I have wanted one of these table top computer displays since I saw Aliens in 1986. When the marines retreat back to the living quarters after they got beat up in the cooling towers they reviewed the building blueprints on a table top display like this. I was a draftsman back then and I thought that was the coolest display I had ever seen but then a 286 was cutting edge!
    • Anyone who has ever operated a Sony camcorder understands the fundamental design flaw with the military Touch Table. Constantly touching the screen with your hands smudges the screen. Seeing the streaks of grease and the occasion bits of dirt is distracting. In a real-time battle scenario, I would not want to be distracted.

      The Touch Table should be modified so that external sensors can detect the motion of the hand about 1 foot away from the screen. Those sensors would then translate the motion into z

      • Or, as Maddox puts it [thebestpag...iverse.net]:

        [stupid lameness filter stupid]iPhone ___ Nokia E70
        Screen turns into a smudgy
        piece of shit after a few ----------Yes _______ No
        minutes of use:

        (Formatting fun!)
      • Waving hands over panels to operate devices? I hope Keith Wilson [wikipedia.org] is reading this post. It's more life imitating art.
    • by coso (559844)
      ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT iPhone! /Wonder if it's price will drop by almost half in a month. It would have me if it were holographic.
    • as if it matters. attacking military developers for patent infringement is un-patriotic!!!11
    • by neokushan (932374)
      Yet another person who believes that if it's got an Apple logo on it, it was the first of it's kind...
      Apple weren't the first people to do touch displays, or even multiple touch displays. Just google the damn things, I remember seeing someone play warcraft 3 on a table computer similar to this one and that was years ago.
      • Apple neither invented the touch screen, nor do they even use their own version. In typical Apple fashion, they took an existing yet under-utilized technology and pushed it into the mainstream. Giving Apple credit for the FAA table by inferring there is some sort of Apple patent involved is ridiculous, since Apple probably doesn't have the patent for the touch screen they use in their own products.
  • Brilliant (Score:2, Funny)

    by cpq (1153697)
    Google Earth + Touch Screen + Plasma = How many billion? Brilliant.
    • Why billions when you could have .... millions! *pinky to mouth*
      • by cpq (1153697)
        Exactly. Perhaps I'm not seeing the incredible technology here... Maybe if it had a calendar, or YouTube...
    • by Catskul (323619) *
      Its innovative...
      ...because its horizontal.
  • Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?
    • Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

      Fingers apart is widening the rectangle of terrain being viewed, fingers together is reducing the rectangle of terrain.
      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

        Fingers apart is widening the rectangle of terrain being viewed, fingers together is reducing the rectangle of terrain.
        Exactly. The blurb indicates the opposite. Apart zooms out, together zooms in.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Methinks someone was not paying attention to Grover on Sesame Street: "Near! ... (bounce, bounce, bounce)... Far!"

          Fingers apart == far == zoom out, fingers together == near == zoom in. If you drew an imaginary rectangle over the physical location being viewed, zooming out would make the rectangle bigger (widening as the GP poster phrased it), and zooming in would make the rectangle smaller over the actual physical location (narrowing). Pretty darn intuitive, if you ask me.

          • by toddestan (632714)
            I think that's counter intuitive. The way it should be is move fingers apart = zoom in. Move fingers together = zoom out. Think of it this way, when I put two fingers on two points of the map and drag them, I'm telling the system where I want those two points on the map on the screen. If I put a finger on two opposing corners of a building and drag those corners to the edge of the screen, I want the building to fill the screen (hence zoom in). The same system can also be used to intuitively rotate the
    • by Hennell (1005107) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:53PM (#20521953) Homepage
      Video on their website [touchtable.com] seems to show it better.
    • Its called a 'user selectable property' most software has this capability.
      • Except you don't want to give government employees user selectable properties, because they'll mess it up. Hundreds of hours go into the standardization of critical tasks like the ones the FAA has to do. Training is built with ONE property, not multiple properties, in mind. Giving the users choices is good for home computers, but dangerous for government work.
    • by gobbo (567674)

      Shouldn't the zoom go the other way, as if you're stretching or shrinking the image?

      I was looking to mod the right answer, but didn't see it, so here:
      The summary is misleading. Like other multitouch devices, this one zooms in when you pull your fingers apart, and vice versa.

      Why do they do it this way? there are comments on this page that bringing your fingers together should zoom in. That is an abstract, thought-experiment approach that doesn't include an essential sense: proprioception. [wikipedia.org]

      When you pull your fingers apart, you are pulling. To trick your visual processing to work with yo

      • by JRaven (720)
        Much more likely it's simply because when you pull your fingers apart the system immediately knows WHERE you want to zoom in on -- namely, on whatever location your fingers were initially over. If you wanted to make "moving fingers together" indicate zoom then the system is left guessing which point of the picture you want to zoom in on... presumably it would be whatever point your fingers are converging towards, but that can be hard to estimate accurately (since your two hands might not move at the same sp
        • by gobbo (567674)

          Much more likely it's simply because when you pull your fingers apart the system immediately knows WHERE you want to zoom in on -- namely, on whatever location your fingers were initially over.

          Yeah that'/s also true; there are many reasons for using a pull as a zoom, such as having pixels morphing relative to two paths (not inverse), or keeping your destination visible during the zoom, etc.

      • Nice post! Imagine that; a bunch of experts who did a lot of research and user acceptance training know more about something than your average slashdot mob. Thank you for pointing out how irrelevant most people are on here. Seriously, just because people hang out on slashdot and ramble on about Linux and (shudder) politics, doesn't mean they have a shred of credibility when it comes to criticizing things of which they know nothing about. Thank you for the excellent post.
    • It's pretty self-evident to anyone that has used Google maps or Safari on an iPhone for 2 seconds that it's fingers out to zoom in and fingers in to zoom out. Your fingers are moving the points closer together (fingers in == zooming out) or further apart (fingers out == zooming in).
  • Interface Design (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:38PM (#20521807) Homepage

    two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in
    This strikes me as counterintuitive. Perhaps actual testing proved this was the best way, but it seems to me that it's exactly backwards. If you wanted to zoom out, would it not be more logical to place two fingers on two points on the map (say) six inches apart, then have the map zoom out as you "dragged" the two points closer together, and vice-versa?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in"

      This strikes me as counterintuitive. Perhaps actual testing proved this was the best way, but it seems to me that it's exactly backwards. If you wanted to zoom out, would it not be more logical to place two fingers on two points on the map (say) six inches apart, then have the map zoom out as you "dragged" the two points closer together, and vice-versa?


      Disclaimer, I'm a software developer who has done graphics, perha
      • Re:Interface Design (Score:4, Informative)

        by Dun Malg (230075) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @02:00PM (#20522001) Homepage

        Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display.
        Enlarging a small piece of the visible map to take up more screen space is usually considered zooming in.
        • As I mentioned in my reply to your post here [slashdot.org] your mental model isn't quite right. The screen space is constant, the amount of the map you display varies. If the map has a constant "physical" size, then zooming in shows less of the map not more. Zooming out, in turn, shows more of the map, in reduced detail.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Animaether (411575)
            Their mental model may be based on this simple notion. Take a balloon with a print on it, like a logo. Don't inflate it, just cut the part with the print on it out. Find a small opening somewhere in your house to view this print through. Now take the piece between two fingers, and stretch it apart. What you see through that small opening is the print getting enlarged. The more you stretch, the bigger the tiny detail in the print becomes. This is akin to zooming in.

            Put differently, and within the devi
            • I was thinking about this on and off over the course of the day today (geek). I guess the difference is that if you did it the way I mentioned, the user is manipulating a virtual camera and giving directions to this unseen camera (zoom out, zoom in). In contrast, the way you describe it, the user is manipulating the image and not some unseen camera. Of the two, the alternative of manipulating the image is far more concrete than one of some imaginary or unseen camera. Having said that, I now agree you an

      • by Moodie-1 (966737)

        Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display.

        What you are describing is known to us normal humans as 'zooming in', not 'zooming out'. Think of it as if you were hovering far above the Earth and you wanted to get closer to a particular area. You would zoom in, that is, you would get closer to the Earth.
        • "Moving the fingers apart to zoom out makes sense to me, you are enlarging the piece of the world/map to be displayed on the display."

          What you are describing is known to us normal humans as 'zooming in', not 'zooming out'. Think of it as if you were hovering far above the Earth and you wanted to get closer to a particular area. You would zoom in, that is, you would get closer to the Earth.


          And you are shrinking the piece of the world/map to be displayed. In my original comment, enlarging the piece of
      • Depending on the popularity of the iPhone, this may or may not be counter-intuitive. Since the iPhone works the exact opposite of what is described in the article, a guy working for the FAA who uses an iPhone is in for a rough day.
        • The iPhone does not get to define what is intuitive, however I agree that there could be a problem. I've developed software for both Windows and Mac. I've noticed Mac users complain about Windows doing things wrong and Windows users complain about Mac doing things wrong. While there are occasional cases where they were correct, such complaints were usually just exhibiting a legitimate difference in implementation. It is common for people to believe that what they are conditioned to do is intuitive, that wha
    • by Cheapy (809643)
      It seems right to me. Move your fingers together to "lock-in" on a location, and spread them apart to zoom-out. Moving closer to look closer, moving apart to get a larger view of the picture. Seems about right to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by pimpimpim (811140)
      It's called the goatse interface. Using two hands two move the point of interest apart enables a closer look.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tyrione (134248)
      Or from the following notion:

      You have a Cupboard before you. You are at armslength (your hands are close together with each one holding a cupboard door handle) from the cupboard doors. As you open the doors your arms extend to the left and right and you step forward to look inside the cupboard and at the contents of what lies within.

      You don't close a cupboard and get closer to it. You pull away and your arms return to their closed door position.

      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        Oh they used cupboard, well, whatever floats their boat. Personally (and rather unfortunately), I find the goatse analogy that I just mentioned easier to remember.

        Also, just imagine the possibilities, an interactive goatse as screensaver! I should stop now ruining everybody's day, shouldn't I ;) Sorry!

      • Its an issue of abstraction. Moving fingers apart to "open" something is different from "zooming" something.

        Its the same as the difference between a scrollbar and a "hand" for dragging. If you use the hand option in Adobe reader or an image editor, clicking and dragging should move the image around, much like on Google maps. If you use a scroll bar, clicking and moving moves the image in the opposite direction of movement. Both are correct.

        In the case of zooming with fingers, I agree with the GP -- when
        • by Moodie-1 (966737)
          Besides being a comment upon MikeBabcock's post above, this is also an addendum to my reply to AHumbleOpinion's post a bit higher up.

          The best way to understand this issue is to visualize it from an individualist point-of-view. There are two entities involved here, you and the map/virtual globe/window/webpage/whathaveyou. The only one you have control over is yourself. You are only one tiny little human being and cannot in any way affect (i.e. edit/crop/filter/etc.) the other entity that you are interactin
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by th77 (515478)
      The video in TFA clearly shows people moving their fingers apart to zoom in, and together to zoom out. The article got it wrong. In fact, it looks like that part of the article is from a press release, so that would mean than NG got their own damn system wrong. Idiots.
    • Re:Interface Design (Score:5, Informative)

      by streak (23336) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @07:21PM (#20524113) Journal
      Being a developer of the touchtable, I can tell you that the article is backwards.
      You spread your fingers to zoom in, and move them together to zoom out.
      • I assume, as the developer, you can't say much about the device in a public forum. Is it available to the general public if I get ahold of the correct person at Northrop Grumman? Pretend money is no object.

        Thanks!

    • Logic and feel are, often enough, two entirely different things.
  • ...they're not fscked up or anything, they'll be able to use that RIGHT AWAY.

    What a *miserable* department... at Oshkosh, I heard the outgoing administrator say, after a flight in a single-engine plane: "Wow!!! People look just like ants when you're up there". An inadvertent window in to an empty mind.

  • Wanna bet that the TouchTable is infringing on at least a dozen patens?
  • Resolution (Score:5, Funny)

    by russlar (1122455) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @01:42PM (#20521857)

    one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution)
    those are some big-assed pixels.
    • by TBerben (1061176)

      one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution)
      those are some big-assed pixels.
      Why is this modded funny? I have a 22-inch screen with a 1680x1050 resolution and I if I concentrate I can see the pixels. That screen is four times larger at nearly the same resolution. Those have to be really large pixels
      • by russlar (1122455)

        Why is this modded funny?
        as the OP, I'm wondering the same thing. But, I'll take the points as they come.
        • Well, quite obviously, it is funny because you used "big-assed" in your post (which, incidentally, Firefox would prefer I changed to big-ashed, which is only mildly funny). To repeat, the original post was funny because each pixel has two oversized muffins... Those pixels aren't one-cheeked, they are, in fact, badonkadonk pixels.

    • Surely you mean, big assed-pixels?
    • Big assed pixels for your big-assed coffee table computer [youtube.com].
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by AaxelB (1034884)
      This is very true, and it also seems slightly ridiculous that the 84" table has a lower resolution than the 45".

      I can see why, though, after looking around a bit. On such a large table, if you're collaborating, you want to be able to see and read what's going on on the other side of the table. If it were more standard-sized pixels, a lot of people couldn't tell for the life of them what their comrade on the other side of the table is pointing at. Granted, ideally we'd have high (good-looking) resolution an
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jugalator (259273)
      Speaking of which, I wonder what the largest pixel in the world is.

      I couldn't find anything even when Googling it [google.com].
    • by LoudMusic (199347)
      [quote]one with an 84-inch screen (1600x1200 resolution)

      those are some big-assed pixels.[/quote]

      I realize the parent got modded "funny", but seriously people, that's insanely low resolution. I have more pixels than that in a 24" screen. It should be 6720 x 4200 pixels.
  • ... MORE waste, fraud, abuse, delay, intransigence, indifference....

    Whoopeeee!
  • Anyone that has seen any of those "TED" videos knows the multitouch screen isn't an Apple innovation.
  • It will be interesting to see if which came first - the FAA touch table or Microsoft's desktop computer.

    God I hope it was the FAA touch table. It would be too funny to see MS get blown out of the water after their big splash with that thing.
    • Microsoft Surface (Score:4, Informative)

      by westlake (615356) on Saturday September 08, 2007 @03:23PM (#20522633)
      It will be interesting to see if which came first - the FAA touch table or Microsoft's desktop computer. God I hope it was the FAA touch table. It would be too funny to see MS get blown out of the water after their big splash with that thing.

      Reading the fine article:

      Pressure sensitive surface allows multiple methods of information [newlaunches.com]

      Microsoft's Surface uses cameras to track input. The actual tabletop is nothing more than an ordinary acrylic panel used as a rear projection screen.

      It should be easy to clean and difficult to break, scratch or stain.

      The technology allows non-digital objects to be used as input devices. In one example, a normal paint brush was used to create a digital painting in the software. [In] using cameras for input, the system does not rely on [the] properties required of conventional touchscreen or touchpad devices such as the capacitance, electrical resistance, or temperature of the tool [being] used. Microsoft Surface [wikipedia.org]

      Surface can sense and interact with "domino" tagged objects, like a digital camera. What lurks below Micosoft's Surface [arstechnica.com]

      The Grumman maxes out at 1600x1200 for an 84" display. To my mind, that seems a little disappointing for a military-grade tactical display.

      Surface at 1280x960 for a 30" display.

  • Is MS licensing Grumman on this one? Who owns the patents on this sort of system? In a litigious age where the entire industry for force feedback joysticks for gaming collapsed over IP issues, who owns the IP becomes a critical issue.

    If the future really is a big ass table [youtube.com], then the question of who owns the rights to license that future are going to be a big deal.

    Can anyone help me find the relevant filings on this technology? Is there a cross-licensing agreement between Grumman and MS?

    This is actuall

    • Microsoft's was only a demo / prototype too. Northrup-Grumman's is being delivered commercially.

      And NG is going to have filed patents. Guaranteed. I just hope their filings pre-date Microsoft's.

      • by Torodung (31985)
        You know, though I dislike MS, I honestly don't care who filed first, so long as a bunch of litigation doesn't sink another piece of innovative, if superfluous, technology.

        (BTW, part of the process of filing a patent is establishing "proof of concept [wikipedia.org]." For technologies such as this, that usually means physically producing at least a scripted demonstration model before you can even complete your application. A true prototype is often far in excess of what is needed to file, though, and you certainly don't ne
    • Couldn't answer, but I will say this - I work for NGC...at the HQ facility where we created and showcase this technology...along with a wide range of other interactive information and intelligence fusion systems...and we have been marketing and selling touchtable products and services for years. DoD uses our system for a wide range of applications...and I also wondered what was up when I saw the MS announcement earlier in the year. Fortunately, we have several hundred lawyers...so no worries.
      • by pimpimpim (811140)
        DoD uses our system for a wide range of applications...

        The main application is looking just as cool as in the movies! Seriously, this technology is wicked! I'd want to be some badass DoD employee pinpointing things on interactive displays. Preferably on transparent vertical screens, like in that james bond movie. And some others, but I forgot the names.

        Also, this is one of the places where you wonder how it can be patented. I mean, this is no revolution, it is a development that has just been waiting to

        • Are you the guy behind PhrasR? I don't know how to get in touch with you, but if you are, reply here... Or email me (see profile)...
          • by pimpimpim (811140)
            Short answer: no.

            Long answer: I've never heard of it before, but the PhrasR website is on http://www.pimpampum.net/phrasr/archive.php [pimpampum.net], and they have their contact info right out there on their front page at http://www.pimpampum.net [pimpampum.net]. And gosh, it's "info@...". This wasn't much effort, didn't even have to do a whois! Please do it yourself next time, or your nerd status will be revoked! Just joking...

            Anyway, these are pretty creative people, nice website, thank you for pointing me to it!

    • by adwarf (1002867)
      The touch table was developed by Applied Minds, which then spun off Touch Table inc. [touchtable.com] Its been out since 2005 and uses different technology than Microsoft. Northrop Grumman is doing the software, integration, support, setup, delivery, etc., but didn't make the actual table.
  • Finally, and interface I can play Black and White with.

    Think about it.
  • Sorry but I cant find the link, but my friend showed ma a video last year on a DIY site with a similar thing: THe person had a projector and camera pointing down on a table, and played Warcraft with it, which is about all it is good for.
    • THe person had a projector and camera pointing down on a table, and played Warcraft with it, which is about all it is good for.
      Which one? Warcraft, or the touch screen?
      • The touch Screen is only good for Warcraft/Starcraft, Warcraft/Starcraft is a great game. (although not high tec any more)
  • It's made by Northrup Grummen, which means it's much like the Microsoft one, but continues even more more proprietary, but antiquated parts and software, and costs about 100 times more.
    • by westlake (615356)
      It's made by Northrup Grummen, which means it's much like the Microsoft one, but continues even more more proprietary, but antiquated parts and software, and costs about 100 times more.

      A tabletop display will take a lot of physical abuse. Spills, cigarette burns. MS Surface uses rear projection and IR cameras to track position and movement. Simple, reliable, and cheap.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      But it can survive a near miss by a tactical nuclear weapon.
    • It is not made by Northrup. http://www.touchtable.com/ [touchtable.com] makes the products. Northrup only resells and integrates the tables for clients.
  • I think Broderbund has first dibs on that with their reflective visionary cauldron thing.
  • by bir0 (315616)
    After watching the video it looks to me like an Interactive White Board laying down with the exception they are using fingers to control it rather than a stylus.

    In the video it shows that the image is projected from the roof mounted projector, it doesn't have a display in the surface.

    These are basically already in thousands of classrooms around the world aren't they?

    This looks like it is just an IWB laying down and they are probably charging squillions more.
  • ....but does it run Linux?
  • Moving a hand across the surface pans the display' two fingers moving apart zooms it out; and two fingers moving together zooms it in.
    And a two finger "salute" bombs the target.
  • rolling my mouse wheel.

    If Google had access to realtime satellite images that would display in their view then the FAA could ....

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