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 poking 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.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.