The Kickstarter is reaching its end and the Playsurface team is in a partying mood. The result: Beer Battle! Check it out:
Do that on your desktop, laptop, or tablet! Thanks to all of our friends and backers!
We have a new mechanical and electronic design approach to bring large-format touch computing and home touch tables within reach of ordinary developers and consumers. Our development of Playsurface started by assembling the best open-source optical touch table plans available, and we intend to create a hackable, multi-use, blazingly fast touch computing platform for gaming, music, browsing, device control, and other applications. The goal is to enable cutting-edge performance at a price point that makes buying a touch table similar to many consumer home computer purchases.
Playsurface addresses touch table design from both mechanical and electronic design trajectories, and includes:
A new, application-specific closed-loop digital image processing module to provide touch detection and tracking functions apart from the gaming/application computer
An open-hardware cabinet and surface design developed for cost optimization and flat-pack shipping
- A USB interface standard and driver that reduces implementation of the touch table to the same level as plugging in monitor and mouse peripherals
Once the development work is done, we will ship you a complete touch table and all of the open-source driver and demo programs needed to get you going right away. With Playsurface, if you can put together Ikea furniture and plug in a new monitor, you can have an incredible touch table.
Where We Are
Templeman Automation (TA) is a contract engineering company with prior sales of inexpensive touch tables in the educational and research sector. This has involved significant work on hardware and software.
However, to make a really great multi-purpose touch computer two critical pieces are still missing and need Kickstarter support:
The touch interface must perform the optical touch tracking without taxing the application processor and with minimum system requirements
A specialized hardware design is required to match the new electronics architecture and meet all materials, shipping, and home-assembly requirements
TA has a design to address these issues and wants to make the resulting touch table available to the world as an open-source hardware and software project!
Why We Need Funding
Touch computing has innumerable commercial opportunities. We meet people every day with skills and ideas that should be applied to touch tables. We are using Kickstarter to generate the start-up funding necessary to create a finished platform to drive application creation. Our Playsurface Kickstarter rewards have low overhead to maintain our low-cost vision, and we hope to sell units commercially after the Kickstarter.
But we need both initial orders and funding for tooling costs to create the next generation of touch tables!
Thanks for any and all help Kickstarters!
Here is a new movie to show some of the things you can do with Playsurface right out of the box with Windows 7:
Here is another short movie about playing games on Playsurface:
Here is another one by popular request showing Playsurface with a few of the Microsoft Touch Pack applications - designed by Microsoft to show off the multitouch capabilities of Windows 7:
In response to questions about fiducial tracking with the Playsurface, here is a new video showing two applications we have made:
Here is another movie showing Playsurface running MapTool to spice up board and roll playing gaming!
Here is another one showing music editing with a virtual mixer and digital recording system:
We have had such a great response from the RPG crowd, we thought we would show a few more tools that work great with Playsurface. Check it out:
Redirect: Play Surface, Play-Surface, Play, Surface, Touch Table, Coffee Table, MultiTouch, Multi-touch, Multi-Touch Coffee Table, Play_Surface
Our standard projector is the Optoma GT360 (http://www.projectorcentral.com/Optoma-GameTime_GT360.htm) though we might reconsider that depending on the volume required for the kickstarter. The hardware setup has the projector approximately 28 inches from the projection screen (folded once with the mirror) and the display surface is 29” x 17” (or 32” diagonal).
Yes, there will be a fiducial recognition mode of the Blob Board. Our current algorithms recognize 128 distinct markers that are 2” diameter or larger. The algorithm outputs position and rotation. These capabilities will be reproduced as closely as possible within the constraints of the Blob Board processor.
We will ship your reward any way you want, or you can come to Somerville, MA to pick it up. There are lots of ways to figure out the shipping cost depending on the carrier you want to use. One way is to use the UPS website here: https://wwwapps.ups.com/ctc/request. Use your zipcode as the destination and 02143 as the source.
You will need the size and weight of your chosen reward, so we are providing the following estimates:
$5 Reward: No shipping!
$ 10 Reward: No shipping!
$ 20 Reward: We will pay for this stamp!
$50 Reward: We will pay (or you can download electronic files)
$150 Reward: 8” x 8” bubble pack, 1lbs or less
$250 Reward: 8” x 8” x 2” box, 2lbs or less
$350 Reward: 8” x 8” x 2” box, 2lbs or less
$550 Reward: 18” x 10” x 4” box, 8lbs
$650 Reward: 6" x 42" x 29".box, 40 lbs
$1250 Reward: 16" x 42" x 29".box, 50 lbs
$1550 Reward: 16" x 42" x 29".box, 60 lbs
$2300 Reward: 16" x 42" x 29".box, 60 lbs
Note: If any of our backers or potential backers out there comes up with a better, cheaper way to ship domestically or abroad, please send us a message and we will put it in the FAQ as an alternative to UPS. We believe that there are slower, cheaper ways to ship than UPS, we just aren't really familiar with them! We will do some research on our end as well. Thanks for any help here!
TA will develop a unique set of drivers and touch data acquisition programs that will ship with the hardware. This software will provide everything you need to get the Blob Board output interpreted as a multi-touch device by the Playsurface computer. This will include an installer and set-up wizard (already installed and tested if you get the computer with your reward) for Windows. All software will be open-source. The software will allow multi-touch navigation of the Windows 7 operating system, including browsers and games. An API/Developer's Kit will also be provided with code and code samples needed for rapid development of multi-touch applications in Flash, C, C++, and other languages.
In addition, the following open-source games (all written in Flash) will be provided:
ZapSlap – similar to Whack-a-Mole
Zetch-a-Sketch – fiducial-controlled x/y sketching
Yogurt Lightcycles – fiducial-controlled surround game (empty yogurt cups as control knobs)
Finger Paint – multi-touch, multi-user painting
ShapeCatcher – multi-touch, multi-user grab and sort from a river of shapes
Drum Circle – multi-touch, multi-user sound triggering jam game
There is 9" w x 22" l x 18" h envelope on either side of the sled for a computer. The current projector is 3.8” x 12.8” x 9.2” and a larger projector up to 4” x 15.5” x 9.5” could fit. However, if the projector lens is not in the same place, you may need to do some substantial re-engineering of the “sled” mounting system.
The drivers and API that Playsurface uses will use the HID protocol (See: http://www.touch-base.com/documentation/Windows%207%20touch%20implementation.htm#_In-built_HID_device) The Blob Board makes the blob size and location information into a simple USB feed, which our driver can turn into either Windows touch events or TUIO touch events, or can be used directly in applications, similarly to using a mouse or other generic HID. TUIO is supported by a mature API for integration into Flash applications. HID is suported by Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux (see http://lii-enac.fr/en/architecture/linux-input/multitouch-howto.html ).
TA is dedicated to supporting the independent developer on the Playsurface, so tell us what you are trying to do and we will try to help!
Right out of the box the Playsurface will enable multi-touch games, collaborative sharing of images, web browsing, YouTube, browser gaming, and everything you are used to doing with a desktop computer, but just got too annoyed with watching your friends control the mouse. We even ship it with a bunch of games. In addition:
Write New Games - The Playsurface will be very easy to write new applications for, especially in Flash. Flash has a very mature multi-touch API using TUIO events that are created by Playsurface and its driver. So, once you get the hang of our games, you will be able to make your own.
Control Your Livingroom – Playsurface is WiFi enabled, so you can use a variety of software, including Windows Media Center, to control home theater and internet streaming devices like HDhomerun (http://www.silicondust.com/).
Roll Playing Games - We have had a fair amount of interest in using it as part of pen & paper roll playing games - displaying maps, recognizing figures on the surface, measuring range between defending dwarf and enemy orc, etc. There are tools out there (like MapTool http://www.rptools.net/index.php…) intended for this kind of thing that already work with Windows7 touch events which we can support.
Music - With a little effort there are endless possibilities for neat musical things you can do with the open interface of large format multi-touch. Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch… and http://alexbaldw.in/multi-touch-light-table-for-djs.
Digital Board Games – More and more game publishers are turning to web-enabled digital versions of their games (see http://www.playcatan.com/ ). On Playsurface, you still get the interaction of gathering around a board and looking your foes in the face, rather than switching off at the mouse.
The prices of the awards are not really based on what we thought people would be willing to pay or how much margin we wanted to make for ourselves. But it is also not what we think the final cost of a Playsurface will be if our kickstarter succeeds. The first thing we did was calculate how much it would cost us to develop the Blob Board. As an engineering company, we price out development projects all the time and have become pretty good at estimating the work involved. We have made many circuit boards and done lots of machine vision, so we think our estimate is pretty accurate. The resulting number was $28,000 with essentially no margin or fees (which means our engineers get payed to do it, but the company does not profit). This was not money we had in the bank to spend on a product with no buyer asking for it.
Then we asked ourselves, how many units would we have to sell to make that amount? That depends on how much margin we make on each one. That is, there is a cost for parts and assembly of each product, then a company charges a bit extra to make a profit. In this case all of the profit would go to paying for the development. So, for each award level, we took what we thought we could make the hardware for and added a fraction (about 1/3) so regardless of which reward was popular, if we made it to $40k we would be able to make the board, clean up the design, and get the units out. Then it all looked a little high, so we shaved it a bit and just agreed that we would share some of the burden as a company because it would be a good experience. It should be remembered, though that it is all open source, so if we are successful we don't end up with any secret intellectual property or patents or anything - it is all given to the world.
Hope that makes things a bit clearer.
It is true that if the kickstarter succeeds, all of the build plans, software, and electronics designs will be free to download. But, there are Two Main Reasons to become a backer:
1. By contributing to the kickstarter, you are helping make the Blob Board and the Playsurface a reality. If we don't hit $40k, the system will only exist as a theory. In the long-run someone may make a similar board and system, maybe as a college project, and the technology will move forward slowly. But this is your chance to be part of the development team, have your voice and feature requests heard, and push the tech forward today. If we succeed, anyone who wants to start playing with a solid touch table platform for around $1000 will have a place to go and a community of users to turn to.
2. Because all the plans, PCB layouts, API, software, and Bills-of-materials are open source, but you would still have to build it, install it, and get it all working. Not everyone wants to combine software development with carpentry. Some people just want to turn it on in their living room and get to the fun. Having a mature, for-purchase system available supports every kind of user and grows the community.
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