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Multi-Touch and the Election: Who Is Winning?



From a technology persepctive, this election might be known as the birth of multi-touch. CNN has been using a multi-touch wall, while has utilized a multi-touch  Microsoft Surface  table with an overhead to display what is being moved around. Two different approaches to accomplish the same thing: engage the audience with dynmically changing content scenarios.

Personally speaking, I’ve found CNN’s approach to be more engaging and a better use of the technology: a vertical mult-touch wall that the presenter,  John King,  interacts with. The audience has the benefit of seeing the map change while also listening and watching the presenter. John King has done a masterful job in his use of the vertical wall, and his use of it comes across as very fluid and natural.

Conversely, MSNBC’s approach uses a flat multi-touch table. The audience sees one of two scenarios at various points: a picture of the presenter, Chuck Todd,  manipulating data on a flat table  which displays in an insert above the presenter; or a picture of the  Todd’s hands moving objects around. The flat table approach is a couple of steps removed from the audience, and in my opinion, less engaging. In addition,  Todd also uses some hardware objects to manipulate and change how he is navigating the system. The audience can hear them make noise while they are moved about the Surface. While I applaud MSNBC’s use of the Surface,  the  strength of Surface  is  when folks gather around the  table themselves, like in a AT&T store, a home, a resturant, etc. Using the Surface as a media presentation tool for  television is not nearly as engaging as  the vertical wall solution that CNN employs.

All of that said, I think this election cycle has done a good job  introducing the audience to multi-touch in some big screen ways, paving a good path for Windows 7.



  1. Amitai Rosenberg

    10/19/2008 at 11:18 am

    About Multi Touch in Windows 7: How do you think it’ll
    be? Will there be built in multi touch programs? Will the UI be special for multi touch? Will a Windows 7 user have to get a multi touch computer? How do you think it will be?

  2. Rob Bushway

    10/19/2008 at 12:34 pm

    All I know of Windows 7 and touch is what has been publicly demoed and talked about. We’ll certainly learn more as Windows 7 is unveiled at PDC next week.

  3. zanchin

    10/19/2008 at 1:53 pm

    Didn’t they use same technology 4 years ago?
    I think I read about it here, on gtm!

  4. Rob Bushway

    10/19/2008 at 7:18 pm

    I don’t think they did, zanchin. If they did, we didn’t cover it at the time. GBM launched in 2006.

  5. zanchin

    10/20/2008 at 12:28 am

    Oh, my fault =) Well as I am German I am unfortunately not so familiar with what and when you vote, maybe it was just one year ago…

  6. zanchin

    10/20/2008 at 1:26 am

    Ah you reported on the same thing earlier this year, on Super Tuesday:
    Sorry I messed things up =)

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