FingerWorks - Inventor and Developer of MultiTouch Technology

Frequently Asked Questions
Driver and Configuration
The TouchStream
Gesture Input
Mouse Emulation
MultiTouch Technology
Care and Maintenance
Typing






What operating system/hardware platforms will MultiTouch products work with? Will there be drivers for my favorite OS?

The iGesture and TouchStream product lines emulate a standard USB mouse/keyboard combo. Thus their basic pointing and default gesture functionality should work with any computer that supports USB connections, without even installing drivers.

Thus newer PCs and Macs running these operating systems are fully supported:

  • Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP
  • Linux Kernel 2.4.x and 2.5.x
  • MacOS 10.2 and MacOS 10.3
  • Even BeOS 5 and OS/2

Configuring for your OS

If you use an operating system other than Windows, you will need to configure the product for your OS after installation. This way, the gestures will generate the hotkey sequences expected by your OS. For more information on the configuration procedure, see the Configuration section of the User and Installation Guide for your product.

PCI-USB addin card may be needed for Older Macs and PCs

To use one of our products with an older Mac or PC with a PCI bus but no USB ports, you will need to purchase a PCI expansion card with USB ports. None of our products can connect through legacy PS/2 ports.

Limited Support for Microsoft Windows NT 4.0

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 does not officially include USB support in the operating system. However, USB for Windows NT 4.0 by BSquare does allow use of plug-and-play USB mice and keyboards on NT, and thereby all FingerWorks products as well.

You may also be able to use our TouchStream Keyboards with DOS, Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 if your computer's BIOS includes the "Legacy USB" option, but the "Legacy USB" option may not let you use a PS/2 keyboard at the same time or plugin the TouchStream after boot.

Limited Sun workstation support

At this time, our TouchStream products will work with Sun Ray workstations if plugged into the USB port after boot, but Suns will not accept our keyboard as a boot keyboard. We're working with Sun to resolve this issue via a Boot PROM patch. Note also that Suns only recognizes one USB keyboard at a time.

Can I still have my existing keyboard or mouse plugged in while using one of your products?

Certainly, if you're using a PC with Windows or Linux.

You can also use multiple keyboards and mice on Macs, though we've noticed that the Shift key on one keyboard won't modify keys pressed on another keyboard. Example: The laptop Shift key properly capitalizes keys pressed on the laptop, and the ST/LP shift key/chord capitalizes keys pressed on the ST/LP but, if you hold down the laptop Shift key, and then press a key on the ST/LP, the ST/LP key won't get capitalized.

Sun Workstations apparently only recognize one keyboard at a time, and you must remove one before plugging in another for the second to work.

I want to connect an iGesture or TouchStream to multiple computers through a KVM switch. Which KVMs are compatible with your products?

First of all, you will need a USB KVM. Your old PS/2 or serial KVM switch will NOT work. Several manufacturers supply 2-port and 4-port USB KVMs that work with our products. However, you need to choose a USB KVM that handles generic USB devices, rather than one expecting USB keyboard data on one cable and USB mouse data on a second cable:

Iogear (cables included!)

Unfortunately the IOGear Miniview II and III will NOT work because they expect the USB keyboard and USB mouse to connect thru separate cables. Our products send both keyboard and mouse data thru the same cable, which Miniview II and III cannot handle!

For similar reasons, the Belkin OmniViewT SOHO USB 4-Port KVM Switch with Audio and OmniViewT SOHO USB 2-Port KVM Switch with Audio will NOT work without a separate USB keyboard to do the USB hot key switching!

Dr. Bott MoniSwitch USB

Startech StarView USB KVM Switches

Gefen extend-it DVI Switchers (for Mac DVI Video, Audio & USB)

I've discovered a bug in my FingerWorks product. Can you fix it without me exchanging it for a new model?

The firmware in all of our products is fully upgradeable via the USB device firmware upgrade specification. The upgrade utilities are in Beta and can be downloaded here.

I'm left-handed. Will I be able to point and gesture with my left hand?

iGesture products auto-detect which hand you are using and work the same with either hand. On TouchStream Keyboards, you can swap hand mappings with a special configuration sequence.

My Mac uses a 1-button mouse, my Unix box uses a 3-button mouse, and my Windows box uses a 2-button mouse with scroll wheel. Will the default pointing and gesture mappings support my platform?

You can switch your unit between Mac, Windows, and Unix mode with a special touch sequence. (See the User Guide->Configuration page for the product you are interested in). Each mode enables the appropriate mouse button mappings and makes minor changes to the gesture/hotkey mappings to optimize application compatibility for the selected platform. Your installation CD contains a table with the exact mappings for each mode.

I realize your products already support a ton of useful gestures, but I want to customize them. Can I do this?

Yes, all gestures and key mappings are customizable with the new MyGesture Editor.

To prevent a tower of Babel, the core right hand gesture set is standard across all our products (i.e. pointing, dragging, scrolling, clipboard, text editing, and file/window manipulation gestures). If you are left-handed then the above comments apply to the core left hand gesture set.

The two-handed surfaces of TouchStream Keyboards leave dozens more left-hand gestures free for customization and future enhancements like 3-D navigation. We have worked with customers to develop left-hand application-specific gesture sets for Photoshop, Emacs, Maya, Desktop Switching, and Word (Text Formatting). If you think your favorite application warrants its own gesture set, try out your ideas with the MyGesture Editor. If you think an application gesture set warrants addition to the default library, feel free to contact us.

I have an application that doesn't use standard hotkey mappings (e.g. it maps F2 instead of Ctrl+S to save). Can I customize the gesture-hotkey mappings for specific applications?

You can now customize all internal gesture-hotkey mappings with our MyGesture Editor. Changes made with the MyGesture Editor are permanently stored in your TouchStream or iGesture unit, and thus apply no matter what computer or applications you are working with.

Sometimes hotkey-command mappings are not consistent across the different applications you use. In that case you'll want to change the hotkey settings within these applications to be more consistent (if possible--Word and advanced programmers' editors should have configuration dialogs for this).

Microsoft no longer maps any hotkeys to window operations like Maximize, Minimize, and Restore. For any of our gestures to complete such operations, you will need one of the shareware key/macro mapping programs listed on our Third Party Utilities that can map hotkeys to common window operations. See the gesture/command mapping table included on your installation CD to find out what hotkeys are generated by each motion.

How do I adjust the pointing sensitivity and acceleration for your products?

The simplest way is to use the usual speed controls in your operating system's mouse-motion control panel. However, sometimes these controls don't offer as much range as one would like, especially on Mac OS X or dual-monitor setups.

With the MyGesture Editor you can independently customize the internal pointing, dragging, and scrolling sensitivities, as well as acceleration functions of all TouchStream/iGesture products. Furthermore, our internal acceleration curve is inherently smoother than what is possible on the operating system side. But if you turn up our internal acceleration, you'll probably want to turn off acceleration in the OS control panel, or you'll end up with way too much!

Is there a developer API or SDK?

Yes.  Our Hand Tracking SDK is included in the MultiTouch Utilities which can be downloaded here.

 

What is the TouchStream?

The TouchStream is a revolutionary user interface for desktop computers that eliminates the need for a mechanical keyboard and mouse. It is based on our proprietary MultiTouch technology and was designed to bring computer use to a new level of control and comfort. Typing, pointing, clicking, and gesturing are combined seamlessly on the same overlapping area of the TouchStream's surface. MultiTouch software determines which mode of input is intended by the user, thus allowing fast and simple switching between the input modes.

Why is the TouchStream frame slanted?

The slant is there to put your wrists in a more neutral posture, reducing a wrist strain known as forearm pronation. You should find this posture much more comfortable, especially if you are already experiencing wrist pain. The slant angle on each surface half for the TouchStream frame is about 10 degrees.

Where should I place the TouchStream to provide the most relaxing posture?

During testing we found that most people prefer placing the TouchStream ST in their lap and leaning back in their chair. This is quite comfortable, and you can stay in this position for a long time since all that you need to control your computer is at your finger tips. The second best place to put the TouchStream is on a keyboard platform that positions it just above your lap when in use. It should never be used for prolonged periods when placed on a high (relative to your lap) desktop.

What is the physical interface?

All MultiTouch products have a USB interface.

Do I have to install software to use the TouchStream?

No. But you may find the tips and animated tutorials found both on this site and on the installation CD to be useful.

Is there a wireless version of the TouchStream?

No.

 

Why use hand gesture to interact with computers?

Hand gesture was one of our first and most powerful means of communication - established long before speech and language developed. In the 20th century, our interaction with computers was crude and one-dimensional. Today, however, we are attempting to communicate and interact with computers in a way that is more comfortable and effective for us. Therefore, we use means of expression that come naturally: gesture and speech.

What roles will gesture and speech play?

The partitioning of tasks executed by gesture or speech will depend on the particular application. In general, most graphical manipulations will be done by gesture - it's just a lot faster and more efficient. Operations like asking questions or non-graphical interaction will be best done by speech. In this century, people will seamlessly weave gesture and speech together to form a tight and efficient link between them and their computer.

How will people remember gestures?

People are naturally very good at learning and remembering hand gesture. Simple motions can be learned almost instantly, while more complex motions might take practice to master. A great deal can be accomplished with simple gestures. One doesn't need to reach the level of a novice pianist to become a powerful director of one's computer.

Why are our customers thrilled with gesture capabilities most of all?

Our multi-finger gestures are the quickest way to issue command shortcuts, move the text cursor and more! Here's why:

  • All MultiTouch gestures can be performed anywhere on the surface, wherever your hand happens to be. This avoids wasteful hand repositioning to awkwardly reach for multiple keys in a hotkey sequence, or to move the mouse cursor onto a toolbar button.
  • MultiTouch gestures are distinguished by finger combination and a simple motion direction as the gesture starts, so the command assigned to the gesture issues immediately.
  • In contrast, symbolic gestures drawn with stylus on tablet cannot be recognized until you finish drawing the symbol. Drawing complex symbols takes awhile, which delays command issuance and slows you down.

What makes our multi-finger gestures healthier than the alternatives?

  • Because our touch sensing technology is zero-force, MultiTouch gestures are essentially effortless. Just as easy as swiping your fingers through the air! In contrast, holding multiple keys for a shortcut can get tiring!
  • For each command, you use a slightly different motion and finger set. This way you're less likely to overuse any one finger muscle, as can happen with repeated clicking of mechanical mouse buttons.
  • You won't tire your hand gripping a mouse or stylus. Just rest your hand on our touch surface whenever you like!
  • A single, continuous gesture motion can do the same job as repetitive keypresses and holds. For commands like Undo or Next App that sometimes need repeating, the command issues repeatedly the farther you move if you start the gesture slowly. But if you only want a command to issue once, start with a quick, crisp motion.
  • Reversing direction usually produces a complementary command like Redo or Prev App. Such intuitively paired motions are easier to memorize than separate shortcut keys for every command.
 

Are mouse operations limited to particular areas of the MultiTouch Surface?

No. However, if your application requires it, specialized areas can be set up.

I'm left handed so can I use the TouchStream?

Right and left hand pointing and gestures are easily swapped to accommodate everyone.

How does one move the mouse pointer?

The mouse pointer is invoked by touching two adjacent fingertips anywhere on the MultiTouch surface. Pointer movement then follows the movement of the fingers until they fully lift off, even if additional fingers touch.

Does it matter which fingers are used for mouse pointing?

The only general requirement is that pointing is started with two fingers, excluding the thumb. On the iGesture line you can start pointing with 5 fingers instead of two, for even more relaxation.

Must one always use two fingers to move the mouse pointer?

No. Once pointing is initiated with two fingertips one may use any number of fingers or even the whole hand to move the pointer. This makes pointing more relaxing.

Can either hand be used for mouse operations?

Yes

How is clicking done?

A double click is executed by tapping three adjacent fingertips on the MultiTouch surface. A left mouse click is executed by tapping two adjacent fingertips. Right and middle mouse button presses are done with other finger combinations. Clicking can be invoke anywhere on the surface.

How is dragging done?

A left button drag is done by touching and moving three adjacent fingertips. Drag initiation can occur anywhere on the MultiTouch surface.

How is scrolling done?

Just bring four adjacent fingertips down on the MultiTouch surface. Move them up or down to scroll your screen. Scrolling remains in effect until you lift your fingers off the MultiTouch surface.

How long will it take to become proficient at pointing and clicking?

Pointing and clicking is really easy. One should be able to master it within a few minutes

How well will MultiTouch Products work with my favorite games?

The main gesture sets are designed to work efficiently with productivity applications, not any games in particular. Some games like first-person shooters really need an alternative gesture set that allows one to click while continuously pointing. This capability is provided via game mode on all iGesture and TouchStream products.

On the TouchStream, will I still be able to do paired key/mouse operations like Shift+Click or Alt+Click?

Yes. They're easy on the TouchStream ST/LP. On the Mini they can be a bit awkward, since only one hand is typically used.

 

Isn't the MultiTouch Surface just an oversize touchpad?

No. The technology used in our MultiTouch surface produces images of the hands and fingers as they approach the surface. In effect, a video is created that records the complete motion of all fingers and the other parts of the hands. Furthermore, our MultiTouch software can track and interpret the motion of many hands (and their corresponding fingers) at a time. Touchpads can only sense the position of one finger, or if more than one finger is touching the surface the touchpad senses their centroid.

What is meant by gesture and motion input?

Gesture input is motion of hands and fingers across the MultiTouch Surface which is interpreted as a command by the MultiTouch software. Gestures, for example, can be used to control images and player movement through virtual areas on display systems. Users can manipulate graphics with gesture to do things like rotate, zoom, scroll, pan, morph, cut, copy, and paste.

How many gestures can be used?

Our technology can recognize a large number of gestures, ranging from the simple to the complex. Most existing applications can be improved significantly by using just a few simple gestures. These can be as simple as single finger movement, say, to enter characters or move a pointer. Or, movement of multiple fingers to, for example, zoom and rotate an image, or to finger paint, where each fingertip can be drawing a different color. Some applications, such as video-entertainment, may have a wide range of gestures: simple ones to control, for example, viewing perspective, channel selection, and PIP positioning; moderately complex gestures to "move through" and interact with multiplayer game virtual areas.

Is the MultiTouch Surface divided into special-function regions?

No. At the software level, however, the MultiTouch Surface can be divided into any function desired. Alternatively, the same surface region can serve multiple functions by using gesture to change the meaning of input that follows.

What is the interface between the MultiTouch and the host computer?

USB.

Is help available?

Yes. We can provide a CD video tutorial that includes online help and a Gesture Assistant, which shows operators how to use a particular gesture.

 

Can the touch surface be cleaned easily?

Yes! Much more easily than a keyboard or mouse! The smooth surface covers are made of hard, chemical-resistant plastic. They can be cleaned at any time with non-abrasive, non-corrosive, common household cleaners like Windex, Formula 409, or Lysol. We prefer cleaning with Lysol disinfectant spray bottle because it leaves the surface nice and slippery. Note that if you do not disconnect the unit while cleaning, it may emit spurious keystrokes while any liquid remains on the surface.

How often should the surface be cleaned?

Grime seems to build up at different rates for different people, but generally you should clean it if you see grime or if the surface no longer feels slippery. A Lysol-cleaned surface will look and feel more pleasant for pointing and gesturing. Heavy grime buildup could also interfere with the touch sensing.

Can liquid spills damage the unit?

Not so long as they are promptly wiped away. See above. However, the unit may behave erratically so long as any liquid remains on the surface.

Will the symbols printed on the surface ever wear off?

No, they are actually printed on the back side of the hard, transparent surface plastic, so you would have to wear all the way through the plastic to damage the printing. Remember this interface operates with a very light touch, so if you're having any trouble with surface or fingertip wear, you must be pressing unnecessarily hard!

 

If I use a MultiTouch Surface for typing will my finger and wrist pain go away?

We can not promise that you will experience any reduction in your symptoms. It is our personal experience that proper use of our technology can significantly reduce pain and further injury.

What do I do to touch type?

Touch typing on the MultiTouch Surface is very similar to touch typing on a keyboard. The main difference is that no pressure or force is needed to input characters. For details, see the Typing Instructions page or Mini Typing Instructions page.

How fast can people type on the TouchStream?

Touch typists can achieve up to 70 wpm on the QWERTY layout once they master Zero-Force typing. To achieve slightly higher speeds and greatly reduce finger travel, you may wish to consider the DVORAK key layout.

Can I rest my fingers, palms, or entire hands on the surface without causing unwanted input?

Yes. Our MultiTouch software ignores resting fingers and palms, as well as moving palms thus preventing unwanted input while typing. You can rest a hand at any time by dropping all five fingers on the surface simultaneously. However, most isolated finger taps near keys are interpreted as typing, so you must be careful to only tap the keys you intend.

If the entire surface is used for both typing, mouse, and gesture input, how does the system tell which mode I am using?

The system tells what mode you want to use by watching how many fingers first contact the surface:

- single finger taps convert to typing

- multi-finger touch means mouse, gesture, or resting

Is there any tactile feedback like textures or bumps on the surface?

Yes. There are braille-like dots, or raised dimples, at the center of each home row key. These let you find home row by sliding 5 fingers on the surface without looking down. There are no tactile indicators on the other keys. If you learn to reach the proper amount for them and then spring back to home row, you can really 'touch' type (without looking down).

Is there any audible feedback when typing?

If you're using Windows, you can download the KeyTick utility listed on our Third Party Utilities page. It lets you choose clicking sounds ranging from a whistle to an old-fashioned typewriter.

Other operating systems such as Linux/KDE have options to generate sounds for each keypress.

But after you adapt to MultiTouch you may want to turn off the sound and enjoy typing in complete silence.

How long will it take to become proficient at touch-typing?

Learning time is very age dependent. The younger you are the faster you'll get it. In general, the TouchStream Keyboard is not recommended for the older user unless you have youthful hand coordination and you are willing to take the time to relearn using a keyboard. It can take 1 to 4 weeks to reach your normal typing speed depending on your age.

After mastering the TouchStream, people come to love the effortless, light feel of zero-force typing. And they love the ability to switch instantaneously between typing, pointing, and gestures without reaching off the keys. Thus you should experience increased performance if you do a healthy mix of typing, pointing, and editing as is typical with modern GUI applications.

What about hunt-and-peck typing?

Hunt and peck typing is easy. Just touch the key you want to enter. But remember not to bang the keys.

Can I move the locations of the keys?

Yes, you can remap keys and adjust their physical location.

On the TouchStream, will I still be able to do paired key/mouse operations like Shift+Click or Alt+Click?

Yes