From smartphones to tablets to laptops, many of us own at least one device with a touchscreen. So why not touchscreen TVs? Touchjet wants to let you turn any TV into a touchscreen with the WAVE, a peripheral that plugs into any TV’s HDMI port. And by blowing through their $100,000 Indiegogo fundraising goal in less than 24 hours, the WAVE may become a reality. In fact, it has raised $416,649 as of the time this article was published.
The WAVE clamps on top of your TV and reads finger motions and gestures using infrared cameras. The WAVE can run Android apps installed on its own onboard Android operating system, or run apps via any smartphone or tablet using the downloadable WAVE app.
The WAVE faced skepticism when the Touchjet team was looking for funding, says Touchjet CEO Helen Thomas, since TVs have always been conduits for passive entertainment. But in the office, a touchscreen TV makes a ton of sense.
The most obvious application for a WAVE-powered touchscreen TV is to liven up the most dreaded business experience: the presentation. Office presentations are often still PowerPoint-style slideshows that have to be clicked through. With the WAVE, users can plug the peripheral on top of any TV with an HDMI port and move through presentations and documents via a fluid touch interface–and for $120 (the discounted Indiegogo price), it’s far cheaper than buying a new state-of-the-art touchscreen television. Best of all, the WAVE will ship with software that will let others sitting in the audience or at home directly manipulate or draw on/annotate the screen too using their phones or tablets, a screen-sharing interactivity akin to Google Docs.
“Connecting everyone in the audience via their own smartphones and tablets lets them participate in the conversation, so people aren’t distracted by their phones–they’re actively participating in a collaborative environment,” says Thomas.
Touchjet started experimenting with enterprise touchscreens with their previous release, the Pond, a touchscreen projector that was successfully crowdfunded in September 2014 and began shipping this March, retailing for $599. The Pond’s touchscreen recognizes an infrared laser fired from a paired stylus. Touchjet wanted the WAVE to be far more natural, so they spent six months hammering out the WAVE’s design and code to recognize finger gestures without the need of a stylus or wearable ring.
While Touchjet is in talks to partner with enterprise clients, Thomas is confident that there are many more applications to explore in conjunction with mobile apps. Using the WAVE to bring small-touchscreen mobile apps to larger TV screens might open up new use cases, like games. And since the fundraising campaign launched, the Touchjet team has received pitches for more uses by backers–like a hotel chain that contacted them to ask about using WAVE-equipped TVs in their lobbies. Touchjet is very much looking to their community to help shape future use cases.