It’s not from Apple, but it gives a pretty good idea of what to expect from them, especially knowing that only one guy—Christian Moore—got this system running at full speed on a simple Intel-based MacBook. His Lux free open framework enables true multitouch interaction in Mac OS X. In fact, he says it can work under any platform and even a web browser, enabling complex user interfaces and object manipulation comparable to Jeff Han’s magic walls or the Microsoft Surface anywhere. We talked with Moore about how it works and what to expect from it.
Jesus Diaz: Tell me more about Lux. This is a framework that anybody can use, right? Under any platform?
Christian Moore: Well, yeah, is an open source framework I've been working on for experimenting with user interfaces. It's more a general framework than targeting one main deployment platform. That video is actually all AS3 running in Flash 9 over Mac OS X, but you can integrate it with any development system and platform.
JD: Why Flash?
CM: Because it's fast to prototype in. However, the software is broken into several segments. One C++ application that tracks hands that talks to Flash... WPF... or another C++ app... and basically everything you can imagine. You can enable multitouch in any environment, like Cocoa.
JD: So anyone can grab the framework and make native multitouch apps right in Mac OS X or Windows or Linux.
CM: Yeah. We have an Xcode-developed app for photo and paint coming, as well as a tracking application. But using Flash for this demo was the fastest way for us at the moment.
JD: How many people did this?
CM: I did the core system, but four people from the NUI Group contributed demos.
JD: What machine is running the demo in the video? Looks amazingly fast.
CM: Just a MacBook.
JD: And for the multitouch screen?
CM: I use a ~box from naturalui. It's ghetto tech, I know, but I developed the majority of Lux on a cardboard box. And it works great.
JD: Indeed, it looks like it works perfectly right. How does this compare to frameworks like UITouch, in the iPhone?
CM: Apple's UITouch its very, very well designed. It runs at the core level, while ours is more a free environment to develop on top... to learn about multitouch and share code.