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).
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:
Add a multi-touch monitor to a standard PC
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.
Buy a specific multi-touch PC
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)
Use a multi-touch interactive whiteboard
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).
Or make your own multi-touch interactive whiteboard/wall/anything using Johnny Chung Lee’s ideas
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)