BendDesk introduced: the desk that is a touch screen (w/ Video)

December 14, 2010 by Lin Edwards, report

( -- A research project from the RWTH Aachen University Media Computing Group and Department of Work and Cognitive Psychology in Germany is developing a desk in which the entire curved surface is a multi-touch touch screen and display, removing the need for keyboard, mouse and separate display.

Most desks these days include a vertical display for , such as a PC or laptop screen, and user interfaces and input devices on the horizontal surface, such as a keyboard and mouse. The desk surface would also often be covered with papers, and objects such as pens and coffee mugs.

The designers of BendDesk say the vertical and horizontal areas of the desk are separated and this makes it difficult to move documents from one surface to the other. They also point out that the user interacts differently with the vertical and horizontal areas of the desk, for example, interacting with objects on the vertical area with a mouse, and the horizontal with a pen. They say the project is their “vision of a future workspace that allows continuous interaction between both areas.”

The result of their vision is BendDesk, which has horizontal and vertical surfaces made of a single 104 cm x 104 cm piece of bendable acrylic. The entire area serves as both display and multi-touch screen, which enables the user to interact with virtual objects anywhere on the surface. The system uses two projectors, three cameras for touch input, and strips of infrared light emitting diodes (IR-LEDs) set into the sides of the desk surface.

The developers, Malte Weiss, Simon Voelker, and Professor Jan Borchers, head of the Media Computing Group, and Christine Sutter from the Department of Work and Cognitive Psychology at RWTH Aachen University, say they took special care over the ergonomics and users can sit comfortably at the desk and can still place physical objects on it. However, they note in their paper that some of the test volunteers became fatigued after only a few minutes, and the volunteers were almost all males between the ages of 24 and 32, and more work would need to be done on exploring the ergonomic aspects.

Possible applications for the BendDesk include manipulation via multi-touch gestures of objects such as photographs, documents, or videos, and video games.

The project is at the research stage and may never be commercialized. It is partly funded by the German B-IT Foundation.

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4 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2010
That would have to be a mighty tough yet sensitive surface to simultaneously be a touch screen, display and writing surface without being quickly destroyed.

I don't see the need to have the vertical and horizontal areas connected that way, but a desk top touch screen, display would be cool. With a virtual mouse and keyboard, documents and notes that can be moved around on it. That would be nice but it would need a Kindle like display technology.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2010
If they're listening my advice would be to tilt the top of the back away from the user and bring it slightly forward. The bottom "desk" part will have to be adjustable.
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
agreed, sound advice, you dont want to lift and wave and flail your arms wildly for the vertical touch and have a better angle for the eyes neck/shoulder strain , i do like the concept very much, keyboard and mouse virualisation at will as mentioned would also be nice as touch screen operation is not always the most efdicient, for google earth i want a globe shaped projection surface , a skin that inflates as you zoom in
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
"The project is at the research stage and may never be commercialized"

Certainly using these technologies it never will be.
1.7 / 5 (3) Dec 14, 2010
Stupid is as stupid does.

Whoever thinks we are going to be waving our arms and extending them full length to touch a page of text or data (whatever) is stupid. Thde mighty mouse is just a tiny shove away from the same thing.

We've had pen/palettes and they are just as hard to use. Drag with a pen all the way across that desk; just use a mouse and you can use the space of a few inches to achieve the same result faster and easier.

just like Apple, stupid.
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
Normally I'd fire away at Apple along with you Bob B. But this sort of reminds me of the Microsoft Surface. Remember that? It was basically the same thing as this in 'coffee table' style. It would be able to grab pictures right from a camera you laid on it, or from a phone, let you manipulate them, etc. but the the Ipad came along and put about 8% of that functionality into a lightweight device and BAM sells like hotcakes.
Guess I did just turn on Apple as usual. I want a Surface! What did you do with it Microsoft?
not rated yet Dec 14, 2010
I am a CAD user in the civil industry and can see this as being the electronic version of the drawing board. Imagine being able to drag around a virtual radius curve to assist you in developing an alignment. Although I think that you would only need the desk top surface.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 14, 2010
It's not a touch screen, it uses cameras and IR sensors to tell where you are touching. The screen itself is just a piece of plastic that has the right optical properties for the projector.
not rated yet Dec 15, 2010
I'm still holding my breath for the Minority Report set up :3
not rated yet Dec 15, 2010
Pretty sure this article was posted a couple weeks ago, but maybe that was another site.

That would have to be a mighty tough yet sensitive surface to simultaneously be a touch screen, display and writing surface without being quickly destroyed.

Actually, it doesn't need to be. The way they did this is far more durable. They used cameras to track motion so it's not a touch-sensitive surface... and they used projectors instead of LCDs for the displays.

Edit: I see ereneon posted this already. I typed up my reply > 24 hours ago, just forgot to hit submit.
not rated yet Dec 19, 2010
this will be pointless when the commercialization of the minority report type technology occurs. It will be sooner rather than later for it to be widespread.

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