MERL DiamondTouch

29 Jun


Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) DiamondTouch table is the world’s first multi-user touch technology, allowing multiple people to work simultaneously, and the system knows who is who. DiamondTouch also supports rich gesture inputs, and it is debris tolerant (meaning that you can put your coffee cup on the table – no problem). This makes DiamondTouch a useful tool for supporting small group collaborative activities.

Currently the DiamondTouch table is available commercially only as a developer’s kit and includes: a selection of demonstration applications; a mouse emulator with onscreen keyboard to support common Windows applications; and a Software Developer’s Kit allowing the development of new software applications that support gesture inputs and multiple simultaneous users.

What is the objective


Computers are good at facilitating collaboration between people in remote locations. However, when people are in the same place at the same time, computers tend to get in the way. DiamondTouch supports small group collaboration by providing a display interface that allows users to maintain eye contact while interacting with the display simultaneously (i.e., without having to take turns). DiamondTouch was first created in 2001 as an experimental multi-user interface device. Over the past few years, MERL has manufactured about 100 DiamondTouch tables, lending them to universities and research organizations around the world.

Technical Discussion


DiamondTouch is front-projected and uses an array of antennas embedded in the touch surface. Each antenna transmits a unique signal. Each user has a separate receiver, connected to the user capacitively, typically through the user’s chair. When a user touches the surface, antennas near the touch point couple an extremely small amount of signal through the user’s body and to the receiver. This unique touch technology supports multiple touches by a single user (e.g., two handed touch gestures) and distinguishes between simultaneous inputs from multiple users. DiamondTouch tables are available in two sizes (32″ diagonal and 42″ diagonal display), while custom sizes and shapes are available on spec.

DiamondTouch Features
– Multiple simultaneous users
– Ability to distinguish who is who
– Rich gesture inputs
– Operation with objects on table
– Choice of 32″ or 42″ diagonal surface
– Control of any Windows software using mouse emulator
– Tools for developers to write multi-user, gesture-activated applications
with SDK and open API

Developer???‚?„?s Kit includes
The developer’s kit includes the DiamondTouch hardware and drivers, plus a software developer’s kit (SDK) that supports application development in Java, C, C++, .NET and ActiveX. We will include a few demonstration applications, as well as a Windows mouse emulator or DTmouse. With DTmouse and access to a pop-up on-screen keyboard, you can drive Windows applications out of the box. If you want multi-user capabilities or gesture inputs, you can use the SDK to develop application software. The DiamondTouch developer’s kit does not include a projector – you can use your own or you can purchase one from us. You will need to have the projection image aimed down onto the DiamondTouch table. Here again, you can purchase a floor stand and mounting bracket, or you can use something of your own design.

Pricing of the DiamondTouch
– DT81 (32″) developer’s kit* – $9,500

– DT107 (42″) developer’s kit* – $12,500
– Mitsubishi XD60U DLP projector – $2,300
– Mitsubishi XD490U DLP projector – $3,400
* There is no DLP projector included in the kits!

See MERL DiamondTouch in action

General features demo of DiamondTouch

Demonstration video of DiamondTouch working with GoogleEarth

And DiamondTouch when used for gaming with Warcraft 3

Get more information about MERL DiamondTouch
Download DiamondTouch product spec sheet in PDF

The keyboard from the Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 set is labeled as spill resistant, so I decided to test that by pouring a cup of water on it… I just couldn’t resist not to try that “feature”. After all it is not like you can’t accidentally spill your cup of coffee or coke on the keyboard… 😉

– Microsoft Optical Technology: Use on nearly any surface
Navigate with better speed, accuracy and reliability’the optical sensor tracks movement on nearly any surface without the hassle of clogged mouse parts.
– Wireless Freedom: Free yourself from cable clutter. Give yourself room to move – wireless mouse and keyboard products let you work without worrying about tangled wires.
– Longer Battery Life: Get more done without disruption. Work with less interruption with longer battery life.
– Multimedia Center: Enjoy fast access to your media. With the touch of a button you can easily access your favorite music, video clips, and media programs.
– Additional Features: Spill-Resistant Design, E-mail and Internet Hot Keys, My Computer and Calculator Hot Keys, Enhanced F-Key Functionality.

Watch what happens when I pour a cup of water on the keyboard…

The price of the Desktop 1000 keyboard/mouse kit is $29.99.

To get a Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 kit…


If you have thought that Sony VAIO UX180P Micro PC is an interesting and cool PC, wait until you see the new Sony VAIO UX90 (VGN-UX90PS/UX90S) that comes with solid-state hard drive instead of a mobile hard drive. There is also mobile digital television support (DVB-T) built in the new model…


The VAIO UX90S comes with a 16GB flash-solid state disk (Flash-SSD) instead of the traditional mobile 30GB hard drive used in the previous model. The Flash-SSD allows the system to respond a few times faster than the VAIO UX50 (Outlook application load times drop from 9 seconds to 1.5 seconds) while also improving battery life up to 13%. The weight of the unit is just 492g or with 28 grams less than when normal hard drive is being used.

One of the big advantages of using solid-state flash disk is that the shock and vibration resistance of the device is much higher, because there are no moving parts like in traditional hard drives. Or with other words you don’t need to be extra careful when using the device on the go… 😉

Sony VAIO VGN-UX90PS / VGN-UX90 Specifications
Operating System: Windows XP Professional / Windows XP Home Edition
Processor: Core Solo U1400 (1.20GHz) / Core Solo U1300 (1.06GHz)
Main memory: 512 MB
Storage unit: 16GB flash-solid state disk
Display: 4.5″ WSVGA (1024×600) with XBRITE technology
Power consumption: 20W
Battery: Approximately 4 hours / approximately 2.5 hours
Weight: 492 grams

Sony has set a 209,800 yen price tag ($1,800 USD) and July 3 launch date for the new VAIO UX90 in Japan – nothing yet about the pricing or availability in other countries.