Touch Technology and the plan for 2015

2014 was an exciting and wild year for Mesa Mundi.  We spent a lot of time racing to get ahead of our work loads and to stay on top of some exciting new technologies.  One of the more amazing experiences from the last year was the further development of our relationship with Flatfrog - a Swedish touch technology manufacturer.  Flatfrog and Mesa Mundi Inc. have partnered up to produce large format, zero bezel screen overlays which will be debuting the beginning of March at PAX East and then displaying at DSE and possible SXSW.  March is going to be very busy.

This technology brings the wonders and cost of IR into direct alignment to challenge some of the best P-Cap products on the market.  We will be supplying these panels as overlays through our fabrication partner in sizes ranging from 32" to over 100" with touch counts starting at 10-points and going up from there.

2015 also holds the re-launch of Perceptive Pixel, now a Microsoft product.  The new Perceptive Pixel product is particularly exciting in collaborative settings such as offices and educational centers.  The new product is designed with telepresence and collaboration in mind.  For those of you versed in the industry, you may recall the collaborative tools of yore which the original PPI team introduced at Infocomm a few years ago.  From the promo videos and little details we're allowed to talk about, the new PPI release promises to provide these functions in spades.

On the entertainment side of things, Mesa Mundi's game development team, lead by Mat Morton, has been hard at work (and will continue to be hard at work) building out the next iteration of our Virtual Table-Top product.  Unlimited Tabletop (current title) is a versatile product which introduces the concepts of ePub and eDistribution to the board and role-playing game spaces -- among other things. 

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Gencon 2014: Booth #617

We will be stationed in booth #617 at Gencon 2014 starting August 14th.

In addition to representing ourselves as a bastion of multitouch in a hall full of analog solutions, we will be representing a brand new partnership.  Mesa Mundi Inc. and d20Pro have merged to form a stronger alliance to build next generation multitouch solutions for gamers.  

This merger includes the acquisition of various elements of intellectual property from MindGene LLC as well as welcoming Mat Morton into our ranks as a full partner.

These are exciting times and this news is but a part of the excitement 2014 has brought us already.

The show itself will be handled in a unique way. In addition to the exhibit hall space, we will be running games and allowing the attendees access to our tables in the two attached Marriott locations, the JW and the Marriott (proper?).

We will be running the next installment of our tournament adventure, The Crawl. In addition to these dungeon delves, we will also be holding workshops for beginner and advanced users of the d20Pro virtual table top software.

If you're going to be a the show, look up our events by simply typing "mundi" into the Gencon Event Search tool.

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PAX 2014 - Highlights

We were at PAX this year with a 20x20 booth and the turnout was excellent!  All four sections of our area saw a lot of traffic as people came by to look at the displays.


In the this picture, you can see the initial draft of the booth plans.  

 

These were refined somewhat, resulting in the version seen below. 

 

Here we can see the crowd down the aisle, waiting for the Exhibit Hall to open.  

 

This is the same view, taken from a few feet closer so that you can see the touchscreen mounted on the post.  We had one touchscreen on each side of the booth, mounted on these center posts.  People were able to played a variety of games.  

 

Looking inside our space, we had four areas we set up.   

In the D20 Pro area, Mat Morton had a steady stream of people learning about the D20 Pro virtual tabletop and all of the features packed into it.  If you haven't heard of it and enjoy pen-and-paper gaming, it is worth checking out for its blend of the best of pen-and-paper and digital gaming.

 

 

In the next area over, Dark Infinity Software Corp., represented by Bill and Chad, were running their gaming apps on one of our 60" Mesa Mundi tables, to the delight of many.   Pair Soup seemed to be the big winner with families and smaller children, as a cooperative matching game, but it was far from the only title being demoed.   

 

In the corner opposite, Gene ran Smashit on a Mesa Mundi  55" Monolith 40-touch table which brought on hordes of gamers, with the crowd gathering 2-3 people deep around the table to try their hands at it and watch the fast-paced action.

Several players returned on multiple days, and overall that table was in play more or less non-stop for the entire weekend, with enthusiastic gamers trying to beat the weekend high score.     

In the image below, you can see a table-level view of the gameplay.  Smashit supports up to six players.

 

We were very happy with how the tables performed with this sort of high-intensity multi-touch action.    

In the last corner, we had two of the tabletop designs on display without monitors in them, so that customers could see more of the structure and also how easily the Monolith tables break down for transport or storage.  The flat-packable slot and groove design got many an appreciative comment over the course of the weekend, especially from people who were wondering about using them to do on-site presentations.   

 

Lifting the top off to show how the components fit together underneath.

 

The Microsoft Perceptive Pixel display, seen in the background on the right, is running the Lima presentation software in this image.  We also ran it as an arcade kiosk from time to time, with a pinball game turning it into a life-sized digital pinball machine.  

If you ran into us at PAX, thanks for stopping by, and we hope you like what you saw!  If you weren't able to make it, check back here from time to time, as we'll be attending other conventions and conferences throughout the year and will let people know when we have information on each.

You can also follow us on Twitter @MesaMundiInc for updates.

 

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PAX East 2014

We are going to have a very strong presence at PAX East this year.  We're sporting a 20ft x 20ft booth with a number of key exhibits.  We will be showing off a new line of touch table products based on the Monolith series screens.  These tables use a tool less construction technique that allows them to be quickly assembled and disassembled for easy transport or storage.  Additionally, we will be announcing a new partnership arrangement during the weekend which some of our game oriented fans will be excited to learn about!

 

 

   

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CETW Nov 6th - 7th

We are pleased to announce that Mesa Mundi Inc. is exhibiting at Customer Engagement Technology World (CETW), November 6-7 at the Javits in New York City and would like to invite you to visit us in Booth 434!

We'll have special guests from 4Productions and Touchtech AB at our booth throughout the show.  Additionally, we will be featuring a new automatic lift rolling cart stand for multitouch displays with a staggered manual tilt head.  The stand supports up to 55" screens or 120 lbs.  It uses a single post design with a housing on the back of the stand that adds a significant amount of rigidity to the system when in table orientation and hides the gas springs used to ensure you do not have a large display moving out of control.

For this weekends event prep, I wheeled the stand home and mounted a 40" Monolith, pictured below:

      

Look for the product listing in the days leading up to CETW!

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Coffee Table and Magnetic Marker Experiment

Finally! A coffee table build using a 40” Monolith in an all maple wooden enclosure.  This one lives in my house.  I find it funny how often I've built systems, built prototypes, and rarely have a fully assembled unit at my disposal for experimentation.  

A friend of ours fabricated the adaptive top portion onto our old Geek Chic prototype table build from the Locus days. The construction is all maple -- Geek Chic scrap and prototyping is still better than most purpose built tables. The Monolith sits fairly flush to the surface wood. It protrudes just enough to keep a smooth edge to edge transition from wood to metal.

The total build cost for this unit as a one-off custom build would be roughly 4600.00 USD -- not bad really, but still pretty high.

I'm currently using it to experiment with various non-direct touch systems such as cover glass with moveable, magnetic pieces. So far this has been a great build. The hardware is as follows:

  • 40” Monolith
  • 40” IR Touch Frame—This build is using a 4-point touch frame (can easily swap out the screen for another with more or less touch points—2, 4, 6, 10, 20, or more...)
  • 1/8” Tempered glass surface
  • Samsung ME40B Commercial display
  • Powder coated steel enclosure to hold the kit together
  • Zotac ID70
  • i3 2nd Gen Proc
  • 4 GB Ram
  • NVidia Discreet graphics adapter
  • Small, easily hidden package.
  • Surge rated power strip to enable single cable out from the table
    • Right now the PC and cables are just tucked underneath on the lower shelf. This will all be attached to a mounting system I’m hanging on the right hand inside wall. Easy to access but out of the way and visually clean.

 

The result is a quick and dirty interactive coffee table. The table design is such that the LCD hangs from the metal enclosure which clamps the touch and surface glass components together. The Monolith itself is held up on a small lip that exposes all of the inputs and output as well as the vents for the LCD—this allows for adequate ventilation and support for the metal enclosure which in turn carries the weight of the LCD and glass.

The short sides of the table are closed to allow for space to build our PC box and manage cables into a single exit point. The PC box will be movable from the right end to the left end in the event that I want to alter where the power cord exits the system without having to flip the LCD screen.

Current configurations are as follows:

  • Straight direct touch with no cover glass over entire unit. The Monolith surface glass is still present so touch actions are not occurring directly on the LCD.
  • Recessed screen and edging which allows for a top to be added to the unit which hides the touch screen until it is needed, desired. This build results in a slight drop after about an inch from the edge when the touch screen is exposed.
  • 1/4 inch tempered glass topper. This top allows the screen to be seen and used via keyboard/mouse or through the use of magnetic markers which are placed under the glass and then moved with a second set of markers from above.
I’m working on a small collection of markers with different properties, right now I have some thick ones and some thin ones. The thin ones should allow for button like actions as they can be lifted out of the range of the touch and then “dropped” to create touch actions—however, right now, these thin ones will stack if they are brought over each other—work in progress.

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a video showing basic interactions with my first pass test of thru-glass magnetic objects, Alea Magnetic Markers and Refrigerator Magnets!

 

 

The idea is inspired by the magnetic box toys you see at various science and childrens museums. The external markers can be any object with a nice strong magnet in it, such as a toy truck. The internal markers can be smaller cylinders or less obtrusive objects. The basic idea would be an interactive software that the physical, external objects interact with by manipulating the various "tool-tips" active in the application. The application featured is the Windows 7 Touch-Pack Lagoon screensaver -- still a favorite on my older test systems.

A final build would use glass that runs edge to edge or acrylic that hooked around the long edges. Additionally, I’d use clear stand offs rather than the black PC feet which I seem to have an endless supply of..

The key observation from this weekend experiment is that my kids love it! They have been having a great time moving the pieces around and seeing the interaction with the water and the fish. They're not new to the screensaver, but the physical objects certainly renewed their interest. 


The Lagoon screensaver has a neat feature where a touch event left in place causes the fish to gather and "nibble" at the touch point. In a traditional installation, a user has to hold still and let the fish come up to them. I've shown Lagoon multiple times at conventions and shows over the years and usually have to demonstrate this element. With the static markers, the fish always come out to play when the screen is idle -- a very interesting change in behavior and thus, expectation. My kids are fairly young, they have a hard time holding still long enough for the reward of a finger surrounded by fish. Using these objects, they simply had to -not- touch anything for a few moments to enjoy the arrival of our skittish friends.

As time permits, I will continue to experiment with this table configuration and post my observations.

 

 

 

 

 

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Touchtech Partnership

We are happy to announce our new relationship with touchtech. Mesa Mundi Inc. has taken on the role of exclusive distributor for the LIMA product line in the Northeastern United States.  Our relationship with touchtech has been a long one.  We have used and offered LIMA since its early days of touchtech FILES.  Please see our product brief on our dedicated LIMA page here.  Order information is available here.  We are accepting reseller applications as well.  If you wish to register as a reseller, please email us at sales@mesamundi.com and reference LIMA in the subject.

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Return from GenCon 2013

We are back today from another amazing GenCon experience!  We had a number of wonderful co-exhibitors this time around, d20Pro, Flying Helmet Games with Eon Altar, and Machine Code Games with their entire suite!


We ran two game tables at the show in addition to our hardware on display in the exhibit hall.  The community response has been great thus far.  GenCon Attendee's, please keep in mind that you'll need to contact us (info@mesamundi.com) to get your show rates applied to post 'Con purchases.

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