Multi-touch technology has received considerable attention in recent years. Even though the technology has existed for more than 20 years, the current hype regarding the (MT)multi-touch interaction started no earlier than 2005, when an article about low- cost construction of MT screens made MT technology available to a bigger community. In 2006, a video showing MT interaction experiments and potentials of the technology was hyped across the internet, which was the first contact with the technology for many consumers.
In the meantime, products with multi-touch capabilities are readily available and very successful, for instance Apple’s iPhone or Microsoft’s interactive table Microsoft Surface. It is also likely that Microsoft’s support for MT in Microsoft Windows 7 will further increase the relevance of the technology.
Multi-touch for Java (MT4j) is an open source multi-touch application development framework which is released under the GPL license and can be freely used by anyone. The framework provides high level functionality and aims at providing a toolkit for easier and faster development of multi-touch applications.
In MT4j, graphical user interfaces are based on a hierarchic component structure which allows the composition of user interface components in a tree structure. There are two general types of components in MT4j. Invisible components provide basic functionality like the composition of components. Visible components can directly interact with the user input. The component based structure of user interfaces in MT4j is extensible. When creating a custom user interface component, a lot of functionality can be reused from available components. Custom components can be built upon already available functionality (e.g. hit detection, gesture processing) by composing primitive shapes and available user interface components to more complex components.
For rendering of MT4j components, the processing toolkit is used. Processing is an open source Java toolkit aimed at the creation of data visualizations, interactions and computational art.
The interest and positive feedback from the community, illustrated by more than 100000 hits on MT4j.org per month (even more when new versions are released), and first third party implementations based on the framework, show that there is a high demand for a multi-touch application development framework based on Java programming language.
Currently, we use MT4j as platform for the development of multi-touch applications with a focus on multi-user business applications. This includes applications for collaborative planning and modeling. Additional components developed during these projects will be part of future MT4j releases.
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