DIY Friday: Build Your Own Multitouch Interface


At Maker Faire earlier this month, the $500 Open-Source Multi-Touch Table was deemed by Popular Mechanics as one of "5 Garage Inventions That Might Outperform Their Big-Name Predecessors … at Half the Cost:"

We’ve followed the next generation of hands-on computer interfaces all the way from the labs to Jeff Han’s wall-mounted display for CNN and the CIA, from the hype surrounding Microsoft’s Surface to the reality of the touchscreen table arriving in AT&T stores. And while we were disappointed that Eyebeam’s much-ballyhooed, open-source Cubit device didn’t end up making it to Maker Faire, this “happy accident” from four geek colleagues more than made up for it. In about three combined day’s worth of tinkering after work at a computer-graphics firm in the movie industry, DeRose teamed with his son and software engineers Josh Minor, Brendan Donohoe and Rudro Samanta to turn an Instructables project into a laptop-powered version of Surface—for 500 bucks (including $100 in maple for the table itself, plus the computer and a projector). “It’s a cool little recipe,” DeRose says of the DIY hardware, which uses cheap LEDs for basic functionality ranging from a music sequencer to Pong—though not much else. 

The potential for multitouch surface interfaces is huge. Microsoft is pouring money into development of its version, while Apple is planning on expanding its iPhone interface to a broader range of its product offerings. 

But why wait when you can make your own DIY mini MTI?

Also check out other MTIs at the NUI Group website, which includes alternate instructions on how to make a cheap (but effective) MTI