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A Touch Less Remote: Part 1 of 6

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Vicky Spengler Vicky Spengler | 12:52 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The BBC R&D Prototyping team has been developing its own multi-touch devices and applications to investigate how the technology could support television viewing in the future.

Multi-touch devices allow users to apply multiple finger gestures simultaneously to control the interface. Touch screen multi-touch devices allow users to directly manipulate the interface.

The project kicked off last year when BBC Children's approached us about building a multi-touch table for developing educational multi-player games. They had some specific requirements for their audience that couldn't be met by any of the devices already available on the market.

Testing the first prototype with children highlighted a number of hardware design issues, and as a result a more child friendly prototype is now being developed. This frees up the first prototype table to be used for some other experiments around remote control usage in the home.

The purpose of this work is to familiarise ourselves with this emerging technology, and to develop concepts and design interfaces to present users with new ways to access BBC content and services.

The strengths of the multi-touch technology we are using for this project are: Firstly, it supports many touch points, therefore multiple users can perform tasks simultaneously. Secondly, the screen size supports group activities that share the same interface. Finally, it allows users to directly manipulate the content displayed on the surface, making the technology less visible and enabling more natural interaction.

In recent projects we have explored second screen activity, using mobile as a companion to the TV. Where mobile is suited to personal tasks that require fine motor skills like text entry, the multi-touch surface supports bigger gestures and shared experiences like multi-player games.

Our aim with this project has been to use the multi-touch system for its strengths, imagining a future where multi-touch complements existing hardware in the home environment.

We're going to write a series of posts about the different areas of this project that will include overviews of the ideas, design and technology and evaluation of the finished product.

In the next blog post Maxine Glancy from R&D Audience Experience will explain the context for this remote technology research.



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