Microsoft Posts Touchless SDK on Codeplex

Software that started as a project by a Columbia University computer science student to eliminate the need for multiple hardware-based touch interfaces is now available for download on Microsoft's Codeplex site.

The Touchless SDK was designed by Michael Wasserman, now a member of Microsoft's Office 14 development team, to let programmers use a webcam as a graphical input device. With the SDK the webcam can track the movement of a physical object defined by an individual. A video demonstrating the Touchless concept is available on the Codeplex site.

Wasserman said he first started work on the Touchless SDK while at Columbia to offer an inexpensive means of allowing for multi-touch functionality. After presenting his work at the Microsoft Office Labs Productivity Fair, his concept was selected as a Community Project for publication on Codeplex.

Touchless SDK joins similar technologies available for testing, such as software by CamTrax Technologies for gaming and an open source effort called Touchlib.

While Wasserman posted an extensible demo app to highlight a variety of multi-touch capabilities using the SDK, he said Microsoft decided to look to the broader development community to build their own touch apps.

"I would love to see people produce their own applications, especially games," Wasserman said in an interview. But he adds he sees it having business productivity potential as well.

"There certainly is a lot of interest in using this sort of technology for, say, tracking the contents of whiteboards during meetings and perhaps even sharing virtual workspaces wherein two people could perhaps interact using a webcam to share more information than they would be able to by just typing."

As of now, Wasserman said there are no official plans to integrate the Touchless SDK into any commercial projects, though Windows 7 is expected to have an open API in the development platform that will support multi-touch interfaces.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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