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Perceptive Pixel



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Perceptive Pixel is a leader in the development of multi-touch screens, a technology now coming into its own that offers a myriad of possibilities for informal science education. One look at a demo shows why.


The first obvious application that comes to mind is anything where student scientists have to sift through something to find what they are looking for--leaf litter, detritus on a fossil dig or on the ocean floor. I'd think you'd want to get very quickly beyond that, though, to start to think about things that could be mentally sifted through using this kind of screen, everything from complex physical substances like petroleum to collections of data (each piece of which might have an appropriate form-factor) to mathematical problems that could benefit from a more physical approach (at least for some students), though this last idea could create the same kinds of issues that have kept calculators out of the classroom, unless the touch-screen environment was just being used to let students play around with the mathematical construct in order to gain some kind of deep understanding/confidence in it, but traditional methods would still be required to solve problems of the type in question.

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Jul 22, 2009 11:25 am
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Aside from the obvious barrier for some handicapped users, multi-touch technology is JUST an interface. A fascinating one, to be sure, but still just a tool to get to what you want to see. The value will materialize when appropriate visual databases are developed to allow viewsers to see through multiple layers of content and displays -- contrasting them with other sources, including real-time video (e.g. for teleconferencing, distance learning, teaming. And -- sorry "Perceptive Pixel,...a leader" -- there are some impressive, well-financed competitors in this space, including APPL and MSFT... and CISC is also probably cooking up something icw/ its TelePresence products.

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Aug 16, 2009 05:53 am
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--GaryA



Gary is right to point out that Perceptive Pixel is hardly the only game in town. What I wonder about this technology is how quickly it's really going to get out to consumers. I realize that the iPhone is already out there, but a lot of the kinds of things you see in the Perceptive Pixel demo couldn't really be done on an iPhone--it's too small. So to me the question then becomes: what would justify creating a screen big enough to really leverage this technology, and if it's not informal science, how could informal science piggyback on it? Museums can clearly go ahead and purchase these types of screens for use today--every screen they purchase is, in effect, economized by thousands (or at least until the users break it, which has been a problem I've seen repeatedly even in the best science museums), but it feels to me that if decent-sized multi-touch screens are going to be produced for the mass market, there's going to have to be something more than canned (i.e. predetermined outcome) learning involved; there have to be some problems that these screens can (and do) solve (maybe via the wisdom of crowds, or sheer power of numbers) that can't easily be accomplished by ordinary screens or other non-technological processes. You already see them used on crime shows like "Bones" or movies like "Minority Report," and you love to watch the protagonist sweep all the detritus off the screen to reveal the solution--visually, it looks cool--but what are the real problems in real life that multi-touch screens are going to help businesses or consumers solve? And how? When we know the answer to those questions, we'll have a better sense of how/when the obvious applications for informal science will be able to climb on board.

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Aug 17, 2009 03:08 pm
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