One of the nice features in Windows 7 that’s not had much coverage is multi-touch. I think this is mainly because few of us have multi-touch laptops or screens. However, when you see it in action, it’s the kind of thing that makes you think “I want one of those”. Last year we had a Surface on the stand, which created lots of interest, but I always knew it would be quite specialist – after all, the idea of spending £10,000 on a single device was only ever going to be sensible for a small number of situations (no matter how transformative it might be).
You can get an idea of what multi-touch allows on the video below (one of my colleagues, Andrew Fryer, recorded this at home with his nephew).
View this video on the YouTube site directly
So the idea of adding the same kind of multi-touch capabilities to a standard classroom PC, for a small amount of extra cost, is interesting. And that’s what we’re going to set out to demonstrate at BETT, using a Dell multi-touch monitor on a standard PC. But there are quite a few ways of adding multi-touch capability in the classroom:
We’re going to have some Dell SX2210T multi-touch monitors on the stand, running on standard PCs. I’ve not played with one myself yet, but getting multi-touch on a sub-£300 monitor (£277 ex-VAT currently) seems like an affordable solution. Can’t wait for them to arrive in the office.
HP have jumped enthusiastically into touch computers, with a line of TouchSmart devices, including all-in-one PCs and TouchSmart laptops. We’ve got a couple of HP TX2’s on the way to try out, so I’ll let you know what they’re like. (Harry Fryer was using a TouchSmart All-in-on PC in the video above)
When I was chatting with Promethean last week I discovered that their current whiteboards allow for multitouch (your existing boards might need a firmware update), which means that you can use the same capabilities on a teacher’s classroom whiteboard. Which seems to me like an ideal opportunity to re-energise some teachers to use discover new ways of using their whiteboards (I’m guessing we all still know too many times when we see them simply being used as a big projector, with no interactivity).
I’m guessing you’ll need a geek-factor to be interested in doing this, but how about playing around with some of Johnny’s ideas (he’s the man who created the Wiimote multi-touch interactive whiteboard/wall for £50)