Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR)

FTIR is one of those science abbreviations that doesn't really convey what it's about, but it turns out to be very interesting. FTIR stands for Frustrated Total Internal Reflection and it's a touch-sensing technique used in biometric applications like fingerprint image acquisition.

In this case, we learned that FTIR technology is being used to develop multi-touch interaction with a graphical display system. Touch-screen systems we've seen pretty much only allow you to point and tap with a single finger or stylus to do something. But multi-touch interaction allows the user to use more than one finger at a time so that a user could use several fingers on one hand or even multiple fingers using both hands!

Jefferson Han, at the Media Research Laboratory in New York University's Department of Computer Science has a page which illustrates the FTIR technique and another page with demo images and video of FTIR displays and applications in action. Very cool stuff.

This reminds me of some of the user interface concepts we saw in the 2002 movie Minority Report. I wonder how long it will take for this technology to reach consumers. I'm ready now!

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