Digital Desk (1991) Xerox

digital desk xerox

User interface research from Xerox EuroPARC circa 1991. The sketching segment might be the earliest instance of the multitouch “pinch” gesture (a la iPhone, etc.). Please note that the “Working prototype” segment at the start is real, but the three “Envisionment” sections were scripted demos for the sake of example; the technology of the time was not yet up to the concept.

    The DigitalDesk is built around an ordinary physical desk and can be used as such, but it has extra capabilities. A video camera is mounted above the desk, pointing down at the work surface. This camera’s output is fed through a system that can detect where the user is pointing (using an LED-tipped pen) and it can recognise the documents that are placed on it. The more advanced version also has a computer-driven projector mounted above the desk enabling electronic objects to be projected onto real paper documents — removing the burden of having to switch attention between screen and paper and allowing additional user-interaction techniques. [invented and built by Pierre Wellner, Xerox EuroPARC]

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