Overview of the MT Mini

Don’t let the cardboard and printer paper fool you! The MT Mini is a fully functional miniature multi-touch surface that can be built for next to nothing and used by students who want to test out and play with multi-touch programs without having to use the large 42″ multi-touch computing surface in the Special Projects lab. Technologically, the MT Mini couldn’t be simpler: stick a webcam inside of a cardboard box and put a picture frame and a piece of printer paper on the top and you’ve got yourself a multi-touch input device!

Unlike the full-scale multi-touch computing surface, which uses infrared LEDs to light up fingers, the MT Mini relies on the shadows cast by fingers onto the printer paper. The same blob tracking software and computer vision algorithms apply to both devices with one key difference; whereas the large MT table tracks white blobs indicating finger positions, the MT Mini tracks dark blobs (shadows).

What’s so great about it?

What makes the MT Mini so nice is that the software involved in using the device is the exact same as you would use for the full-scale MT table, which means you can work on programs anywhere, anytime and test them out knowing that if you can get it to work with an MT Mini it will almost certainly work on the table. Sure you sit in the lab and work with the table exclusively, but it needs time to set up, warm up and maintain whereas with the MT Mini you just plug in the webcam and go! Furthermore, the projector inside of the MT table has the unfortunate problem of requiring very expensive bulbs which can burn out over time; so the more you test on an MT Mini the more you are helping the club in saving money!

Getting your own MT Mini

Currently ACM@UNK has two MT Minis to loan out to students, though availability cannot be guaranteed. But if you are having a hard time getting your hands on one of the pre-made MT Minis, don’t worry! You can make your own extremely easily; you only need a webcam, a cardboard box, some glass or acrylic and a piece of printer paper. For more information on how to build your own check out the links in the following section. You can also contact any ACM@UNK officer or faculty member about borrowing an MT Mini or for help building your own if you have questions.

Learn more

Hardware discussion (with video) – Hardware discussion
Getting started with TUIO and Processing – Blog post