Thursday, February 23, 2012

Your Observations of Multi-Touch Usability


This paper will provide an overview and comparison of MS Surface and 3M Capacitive System.

Ease of Use

Each system has a different user interface. The MS Surface appears to be easier to use and more intuitive than the 3M Capacitive system. It seemed like navigating in the MS Surface was much easier than with the 3M. This may be biased because I spent more time observing the MS Surface.

Interaction Method

The main difference between the two systems is that MS Surface uses a projector to test what & where a finger/hand/object is placed and the 3M Capacitive system uses an electrical conductor to measure the touch with the electricity of the user. This allows for different uses for the two. The 3M Capacitive system can’t detect non-human objects touching the screen; MS Surface can. The interaction method for the MS Surface seemed to be superior than that of the 3M system. The MS Surface appeared to be able to interact with static, non-human objects where the 3M system was limited to human objects. I noticed that some objects were not being detected on the MS Surface but that was obviously an application level bug.

System Feedback

The response from the system caused by a touch seemed to be application specific and varied from app to app rather than system to system. There does not appear to be a noticeable difference between which one is better.


The orientation for the 3M was much more apparent & limited than that of the MS Surface. The top/bottom/left/right on the MS Surface could be ambiguous and depend on the user’s perspective. The 3M system has a very clear top/bottom/left/right and these would not change based on the user’s perspective.

System Implications

The technology behind 3M system could be much more powerful than that of the MS Surface. The 3M system could better detect signals from a human body, such as temperature, pressure and potentially generate stress levels that the user is experiencing. This could be used in games or other applications. The MS Surface only measures shadows and this could limit it in some ways.

  • Capabilities of Capacitive technology
  • Future of 3M & Surface multi-touch systems

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