Graduate student Jon Moeller, ZeroTouch featured in Best Buy commercial

Photo of Jon Moeller with Zero Touch

Jon Moeller, a graduate student in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, and the Zero Touch device he has helped develop have been in a nationally aired commercial for Best Buy.

"I had no idea that ZeroTouch would become such a big deal," Moeller said. "I was skeptical at first about doing the commercial, but now that I've seen what they put together, I'm really happy how it turned out.

"The shoot day was pretty tiring. I have a new respect for actors after performing in the commercial."

Over the past year ZeroTouch has garnered much attention for its innovative nature and relatively cheap cost. Touch-sensitive frames have enabled interactive surfaces for years, but the size and responsiveness tend to be limited. ZeroTouch, developed with support from the National Science Foundation, enables precise sensing within a specific plane of interaction.

"As far as we know, ZeroTouch is presently the highest resolution, most responsive and cost effective multi-finger sensor available in the world for television-sized displays," said Dr. Andruid Kerne, Moeller's advisor and an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

In May 2012, ZeroTouch commanded great attention from conference-goers at the Interactivity exhibition of the ACM CHI human-computer interaction conference.

The Interface Ecology Lab exhibit featured one ZeroTouch integrated with a 55" LCD, heralding a new era of responsive televisions. Also featured were three ZeroTouch sensors for eSports competition, two of them integrated with pen-based computing. Another pen-plus-multitouch sensor ran Embodied InfoComposer, a single display groupware for helping people curate connected and rich collections of visual bookmarks. Another application, Zooming Bookmarker, used ZeroTouch to bring multitouch into Google's Chrome browser. And finally, the free-air interaction of intangibleCanvas, reminiscent of technologies imagined in the movies Minority Report and Iron Man, invites attendees to collaborate in a painting space.

Moeller and Kerne's paper, "ZeroTouch: An Optical Multitouch and Free-Air Interaction Architecture," received a Best Paper Honorable Mention at the conference.

ZeroTouch's popularity has opened the door for new collaborations between the Interface Ecology Lab and the entertainment industry. The future of the device is bright.

"We are working to develop relationships with entertainment companies, such as ESPN, Disney, and Pixar, and computing device experience companies, such as Apple and Google, in order to bring ZeroTouch to the world," Kerne said. "In The Interface Ecology Lab, students and faculty collaborate to form and realize visions of transforming computing technology so that human experiences grow more expressive, creative, participatory, and fun. Our continuing work with ZeroTouch is a prime example. Research feeds education feeds research, in an eternal golden braid."

To learn more about ZeroTouch and all the other cool stuff going on in the Interface Ecology Lab, please visit http://ecologylab.net/research/zerotouch andhttp://facebook.com/ecologylab.

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