Multi-touch tables

October 2016

Multi-touch tables may be next step when it comes to interactions between man and machine. Though actually their use doesn't target the general public, Multi-touch tables are already popular in the professional environment


Touch tables are sophisticated devices that enable advanced and intelligent interaction between human and machine .

They can be compared to the new generation mobile phones (iPhone, BlackBerry) but in a far more complex extent, they feature a touch screen on which the user interacts with his fingers, hands or even objects. They also have software that interprets the movements, or more accurately manage all the physical contacts that the user makes through the surface of the table.

Beyond the opportunity to interact with the touchpad with multiple fingers at the same time, some tables can handle multiple people simultaneously.

How does it work?

Touch tables can be developed along two distinct technologies:

The "Diffused Illumination (DI): This technology uses multiple infrared illuminators placed under the screen. Once the user touches the surface of the table, this shall reflect the light emitted by the point of contact to an infrared camera facing the screen. All movements made by the user are detected and then interpreted by the software embedded in the table.

The "Frustrated Total Internal Reflection (FTIR)" are infrared emitting diodes are placed along the edges of a sheet of glass. With this system, infrared radiation beam is actually confined only inside the glass plate. Since light cannot "escape", it is reflected and bounces across the surface. Thus, when the user touches the table, the light emitted by LEDs is redirected to a camera. The software will then take over to interpret the movements of the user.

Why use a touch table?

The advantage

Beyond the technological leap that touch table represents, they can become a real value to a professional. You will be able to offer customers a simple, practical and interactive vision of your product or service. For example, when making a purchase, in addition to the advice you can give, you can talk around the table while making demonstrations..etc..

The disadvantage

The main drawback is obviously the price that may be at first glance deterrent. For the table from Microsoft, called Surface, count at least € 11 000. Prices vary depending on the model of the table, touch screens, but also depending on the applications you want to integrate.

Some key features

  • Large screens (30 inches) and very good graphics resolutions
  • Internet connection (Ethernet, WiFi)
  • Audio outputs
  • Detection and interaction with objects
  • A 2D and 3D design
  • Multi user and multi touch applications
  • Software tailored to the professional activities

Where to find touch tables?

Photo credits : Berekin -

Related :

This document entitled « Multi-touch tables  » from CCM ( is made available under the Creative Commons license. You can copy, modify copies of this page, under the conditions stipulated by the license, as this note appears clearly.