This fall semester, Kappa Eta Kappa fraternity participated in the 2013 Engineering Expo (http://engineeringexpo.wisc.edu/). This three day event is held every two years at the College of Engineering campus, and gives engineering organizations as well as individual UW students an opportunity to build, test, and display an engineering project to the general public.
Elementary, middle, and high school students are invited to explore the exhibits and interact with the hands-on displays. The event is also well-attended by members of the local community of all ages. This was an excellent community outreach event for the fraternity.
This year, the KHK project was called the “Megatactilus.” This device is a multi-touch computer table, similar to a large iPad or Microsoft Surface. Instead of a capacitive glass touchscreen, commonly found in tablets and cellular phones, it uses a pair of commodity webcams and an array of infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs) to read out the presence of a finger or other object blocking the path of the light. The camera is designed to filter out visible light, so only IR can get through, while a separate LCD projector (with an IR filter) was employed to simultaneously project an image on to the screen.
Combined with software processing and calibration, the device enables a user to interact with a commodity Windows 7 PC, using multiple fingers to click, drag, and swipe input to the screen. As a demonstration of the technology, we had a web browser open to the popular game Angry Birds (photo shows active member Dale Saari teaching a middle school student how to play).
Credit goes to Andrew Linson for building the chassis, Dale Saari and Matt From for designing the LED and camera system, Dan Boehm for additional help, as well as other active members for their contributions. We would also like to acknowledge the generous funding support from the Delta Alumni Association for materials.
Photos & Captions:
1) Photo of the device, showing the inside of the chassis with commodity webcam, stereo speakers, and mirror for LCD projection.
2) KHK Active Dale Saari demonstrating Angry Birds to a middle school student.
3) KHK Active Dale Saari attending the table at the Expo.
4) A tri-fold display was prepared, outlining the design and theory behind an optical multi-touch surface.