TacTile - High-Definition, Multi-touch Interface Display to Debut at SC08

November 11th, 2008

Categories: Devices, Multimedia, Museums, Software, User Groups, Visualization

User Interacting with TacTile System (RainTable Application)
User Interacting with TacTile System (RainTable Application)


CHICAGO - TacTile, the newest display device to come out of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory (EVL), puts interaction with high-definition (HD) scientific imagery at your fingertips - literally. The multi-touch, 52-inch LCD tabletop display will make its debut at Supercomputing 2008 (SC08) in Austin next week.

Staff and students from EVL, an advanced visualization and networking technologies laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), will demonstrate the TacTile system in the San Diego Supercomputer Center booth, where EVL is again participating with its partners from the University of California, San Diego.

TacTile’s multi-touch interface functions like a tabletop-sized Apple iPhone, only in HD resolution. Multiple users can pan, zoom, and interact with highly detailed imagery and applications, in real-time, and with improved resolution and accuracy over displays based on video projection. TacTile targets scientific researchers who require high resolution to gain insight into complex datasets, and tackle 21st century problems ranging from the origin of the universe to global climate change.

The technique used to detect the users’ fingertips is FTIR (frustrated total internal reflection), which relies on infrared (IR) cameras and light refraction. Tracking the fingertips is achieved through a combination of established image processing software and EVL-developed custom software. Combined with a high-resolution LCD, TacTile is virtually maintenance free. Last summer, EVL built the first 4-Megapixel prototype of the TacTile.

High-resolution, multi-touch display systems are equally suited to museum settings as they are laboratories. At SC08, EVL will show several scientific applications, including RainTable, an application originally developed with the Science Museum of Minnesota to demonstrate how water flows over terrain. Last year at SC, visitors saw the interactive rainfall demonstration on EVL’s 24-million pixel tabletop using IR camera tracked pucks. This year, SC visitors will use their fingertips to create rain.

Documentation of TacTile’s development to date can be found at www.evl.uic.edu/cavern/tactile. EVL researchers and staff will demonstrate TacTile in booth 568 during regular SC exhibition hours, starting Monday, November 17.