Turn TVs Into Interactive Signs For $200 With New Gadget

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The same crowd that is endlessly looking to cut display hardware, playback hardware and software costs out of digital signage projects will likely be intrigued as heck by a new IndieGogo project that turns any TV with an HDMI connector into a touch and stylus controlled display.

Called Touchjet Wave, it’s a device that clamps on the top of a flat screen TV in the same way you can clamp a third-party web camera on top of your monitor. The gadget beams an infrared overlay on the monitor and that reads and responds to fingers or a stylus┬ápoking away at the display surface.

So if you want touch capability on a large flat screen, you wouldn’t need a commercial panel with either a built-in or third party touch overlay (or IR edges). For $200, this gadget would plug into the HDMI port and do the business on a $300 40-inch flat panel TV from Costco.

It’s a bit like what NYC’s Perch Interactive does, except they have an overhead camera sensing hand movements that respond to what the attached projector is beaming on a surface, like a table, below it.

So what’s going on here? It’s effectively an Android computer running an ARM processor and version 4.4 of the operating system – hence the low cost and the ability to run interactive apps.

The campaign just went up and is already past its funding goal – driven in part by a 50% off $99 early-bird deal.

If you watch the video demos you will see the thing does indeed work, albeit with a little tender loving touch. Some of the scrolling and pinching is done very slowly and carefully, as this thing does not snap away like a fully-engineered Microsoft Surface Hub or Multitouch system.

Which shouldn’t happen, given it’s a $200 gadget that isn’t even shipping until the end of Q1 2016.

Is this a problem for companies that sell proper touch surfaces and integrated screens? Maybe, but not likely. If anything, this sort of thing will act as a starter device for end-users who’ve thought about adding touch, but couldn’t rationalize the added cost.

With this, they can start fiddling and trying things, and if interactive screens is deemed a key part of what they do, they can upgrade to commercial gear.

This set-up would need to be in pretty controlled settings – because that Touchjet thing is going to otherwise getting whacked and swatted and even,l umm, permanently borrowed. But in a real estate office or hair salon that wants to whip customers through some listings or visual ideas, this could/would be pretty cool.

I ordered one for giggles, so I’ll tell you how it does come march or April next year.

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Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes

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Decade-old blog about digital signage and related tech, written by industry consultant and shit-disturber Dave Haynes.
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2 Comments

  • John Baggott says:

    I have seen a few solutions to make a normal screen touch, but in a public environment, and without a toughened protective screen, there is always a chance the LCD panel will get broken with a prod from an overzealous finger.

    • Dave Haynes says:

      John, agreed. I don’t think this sort of thing lasts in a public environment, but in a controlled, small scale retail environment where access to the screen has some control, I could see this having possibilities. It’s in no way a replacement for the great touch technologies out there, but there’s a significant buyer base that will never spend the money on that tech.

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