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Mission

Tactual Labs is an innovator in multi-touch sensing technology. It is leading development of the world’s fastest, most responsive touch and stylus user interfaces. Its next generation touch sensors and architecture will create a zero-latency, real-time user experience for touchscreens, trackpads, and creative applications including gaming.

Fast Multi-Touch Sensor

Tactual's first public innovation is Fast Multi-Touch (FMT), a revolutionary 40-microsecond capacitive multi-touch sensor, that is more than 300x faster and precise than today’s 13-15 millisecond touch solutions.

Tactual’s Fast Multi-Touch (FMT) technology enables zero-latency, multi-touch sensing with cross-industry applications for end-users, developers and OEMs. FMT enables development of zero-latency transparent touchscreens for touch and stylus input as well as opaque gamepads and trackpads. Zero-latency touch input makes multi-touch applications from productivity to gaming more immersive, enabling new mobile, console, PC, virtual-reality and augmented-reality UI mechanics and designs.

Technology

Patent Pending Technology

FMT’s technological superiority over today’s sensing and touch processing solutions includes:

  • FMT scans for input up to 4,000 times a second, over 300 times faster than today’s 60 to 85 Hz solutions.
  • FMT recognizes touch input in approximately 40 microseconds. By comparison, today’s capacitive touchscreens and trackpads used in smartphones, tablets, PCs, gamepads and consoles report a touch-input event in 13-17 milliseconds.

What this means on a practical level is the ability to capture the subtleties of human movement in computing. Today, finger and stylus gestures are poorly captured; digital objects visibly lag behind the finger; digital ink strokes lag behind the pen tip. More immediacy and accuracy can significantly enhance the user experience and reward developers.

FMT includes fundamental innovations in sensor pattern design, signal injection, signal reception and signal processing. These innovations were necessary to improve sensor responsiveness without compromising on device cost, ergonomics or energy efficiency. In addition, FMT was designed to scale better to higher scan rates, larger sensing surfaces and noisier electromagnetic environments. FMT’s smarter signals can more flexibly adapt in real-time to in-device and ambient electro-magnetic noise.

FMT is compatible with any conductive material - from Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), used in most touchscreens today, to emerging metal-mesh, silver-nanowire and graphene conductors.

But touch input sensor latency is not the only bottleneck to immediate response. That is why Tactual is developing both input sensing and OS/application touch architecture solutions. Our research estimates three components account for the total delay between a touch and its on-screen response:

  1. 13-17ms input sensing
  2. 25-100ms OS/application software that processes touch events and generates output for the display
  3. 17 ms device display (for today’s 60 Hz refresh-rate displays)

Tactual’s FMT sensing technology addresses the first component. Tactual’s future touch architecture solutions address the second component for a combined lag time savings of 38-117ms.

People

Tactual’s senior engineering team consists of veterans in interactive surface solutions educated at CMU, MIT, Harvard and University of Toronto (birthplace of multi-touch), with industry experience at Microsoft, Mitsubishi and Draper Laboratories.

Senior Management

Steven Sanders, President

Steven Sanders is the President of Tactual Labs responsible for setting the company’s corporate, technical, and patent strategy in tight collaboration with Tactual’s senior technical management. He also remains an active contributor to Tactual’s intellectual property portfolio. Alongside this role, he works as a Senior Research Analyst & Principal at Sanders Capital, a value-oriented institutional asset manager. He helped found Sanders Capital in 2009. As an IT industry analyst, his coverage universe spans consumer software, internet, IT hardware, input sensors and applied materials. Mr. Sanders also actively conducts fundamental, academic computer science research in HCI with thought leaders at the University of Toronto and Microsoft. Previously, Mr. Sanders worked as a principal banker and strategist for Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Bank of America where he was responsible for performing due-diligence on Merrill’s internal corporate acquisitions and divestitures in financial services and workstation technology. In his strategy role at Merrill and Bank of America, Mr. Sanders provided internal consulting services to line-of-business leaders in retail finance, banking, insurance and sell-side research. While working at Merrill Lynch, he also co-lead software development projects targeted at improving how financial advisors receive and communicate investment research.

Dr. Clifton Forlines, VP of Software

Clifton Forlines leads the software team at Tactual. Prior to Tactual, he led software development teams as a Senior Software Engineer at Draper Laboratory working in the Human-Centered Engineering group. His work included conducting contextual inquiries with end-users, designing and implementing user interfaces and building rapid prototypes of desktop and mobile systems. Previously, Clifton held a position at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories as a Research Scientist and at Carnegie Mellon's Stage3 research group as a Research Programmer for the Alice project. Dr. Forlines received his PhD in computer science from the University of Toronto.

Dr. Darren Leigh, VP of Hardware

Darren Leigh leads the hardware team at Tactual. Darren Leigh is a broadly-based technologist and veteran innovator with over twenty-five years of experience in the field of human-computer interaction. Dr. Leigh was a senior research scientist at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories where he spent a decade developing unique technologies in a myriad of fields. He is co-inventor of DiamondTouch the multi-user touch surface which received the Association for Computing Machinery UIST’s 2012 "Lasting Impact" award for pioneering and popularizing many of the foundational technologies that fuel today’s multitouch sensors and interfaces. His doctoral dissertation at Harvard University was the world's first on the subject of the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Dr. Leigh has authored over two dozen peer reviewed papers and holds a dozen U.S. patents.

Jay Bluestine, Business Development

Jay Bluestine leads business development efforts for Tactual. Alongside his role at Tactual, Mr. Bluestine is a Senior Vice President at UBS Wealth Management where he serves as an RIA and fiduciary to high-net-worth private clients. Mr. Bluestine has over a decade of experience operating as a trusted advisor, portfolio manager and fiduciary at UBS Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch. Alongside these endeavors, he is an active investor and advisor to technology startups including Mosaic Legends and PumpOne.

Technology Team

Much of Tactual’s technology team is based in our research & development center located on the premises of the University of Toronto. This allows us to draw talent from Canada’s top university, while simultaneously taking advantage of financial leverage through sponsored research within university labs. All intellectual property developed at U of T is owned by Tactual Labs through our Sponsored Research Agreement.

Dr. Ricardo Jota, Software Lead

Ricardo Jota leads the development of prototypes at Tactual Labs. He completed his PhD at the Instituto Superior Tecnico from the University of Lisbon in 2012. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. He has conducted research focused on interactive surfaces at Microsoft Research, the University of Toronto, and the University of Calgary. Ricardo has presented papers at leading venues of the ACM.

Dr. Bruno Rodrigues De Araujo

Bruno is focused on development of Tactual’s next-generation input processing and feedback architectures. He received his PhD from the Instituto Superior Tecnico from the University of Lisbon in 2013, and he has pursued his research as a postdoctoral researcher at the MINT group from INRIA Lille Nord Europe. Bruno has been an active member of several European Research Projects such as SMARTSKETCHES, IMPROVE, MAXIMUS, SATIN and Instinct, researching advanced interaction techniques for 3D surfacing using Sketch based interfaces and innovative interfaces for immersive and mixed reality combining interactive tabletops and large scale displays. Bruno has presented several tutorials and papers at leading venues of the IEEE and ACM.

Alex Rodionov

Alex work focuses on the design and implementation of prototype touch demonstrators. He received his bachelor in applied science from the University of Toronto. Alex is completing his PhD at U of T, while simultaneously doing work for Tactual Labs.

Rick Raffanti

Rick’s work focuses on the rapid prototyping of touch sensor controller components. Rick Raffanti has been an aerospace electronics engineer for over two decades. His work has focused on analog design including low-noise, wide-bandwidth data acquisition systems as well as system design with large Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). In addition to his role at Tactual, Rick is the founder of Techne Instruments, a freelance engineering consultancy operating since 1983 that offers PCB design, electronic assembly, and software development with a focus on aerospace and space sciences applications. Rick has previously served as a consultant to the Space Sciences Laboratory at U.C. Berkeley where he redesigned and implemented the Cosmic Origins Spectrometer (COS) micro-channel plate readout system for the Hubble Space Telescope. From 1979 to 1983, he worked as a design engineer at Fisher Berkeley Corporation designing nurse-call and audio equipment. He holds a BSEE in Electronic Design from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ben McCanny

Ben’s work focuses on the development of new user interfaces which take advantage of zero-latency responsiveness. Ben graduated from the University of Toronto’s prestigious Engineering Science program in 2013; his undergraduate thesis work focused on human-computer interaction in pen and touch interfaces, and was supervised by Prof. Daniel Wigdor.

Haijun Jia

Haijun’s work focuses on using machine learning and other techniques to develop predictive techniques to reducing latency. Haijun graduated from Tsinghua University (commonly referred to as “China’s MIT”) in 2013. He is completing his M.Sc. in computer science at the University of Toronto. His work is funded by Tactual Labs under its Sponsored Research Agreement with U of T.

Professor Daniel Wigdor, Science Advisor

Daniel Wigdor functions as Tactual’s Science Advisor providing insight to shape Tactual’s technology and product roadmap. He is an assistant professor of computer science and co-director of the Dynamic Graphics Project at the University of Toronto. He is the holder of many awards acknowledging his research contributions, include the 2014 Ontario Early Researcher Award. Before joining University of Toronto faculty in 2011, Prof. Wigdor was a researcher at Microsoft Research, the user experience architect of the Microsoft Surface table, and a company-wide expert in natural user interfaces. He has also held academic appointments at Harvard University and the University of Washington, and conducted research at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs. Daniel Wigdor is the co-author of Brave NUI World: Designing Natural User Interfaces for Touch and Gesture, the first practical book for the design of touch and gesture interfaces. He has also published dozens of other works as invited book chapters and papers in leading international publications and conferences, and is an author of over three dozen patents and pending patent applications.

Professor Karan Singh, Science Advisor

Karan Singh is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He is co-director of the graphics and HCI laboratory, DGP (Dynamic Graphics Project). His research interests include geometric design, character animation, artistic perception and representation of shape and 3D interaction interfaces. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1991, and both an MS and Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in 1992 and 1995. He was a researcher at Alias Inc. from 1995-1999 where he designed and developed character and facial animation tools for Maya ver.1.0, and was involved with the design and implementation of conceptual design and reverse engineering software at Paraform Inc. from 1999-2001. He was the Software R+D Director for the Academy-Award-winning animated short film Ryan in 2004 Karan has presented dozens of papers presented in leading venues of the ACM.

Advisory Board Dr. Andries van Dam

Dr. Andries van Dam advises Tactual on its technology roadmap with a focus on the design of Tactual’s touch processing and feedback architecture. Dr. Andries van Dam is one of the “founding fathers” of computer graphics. Together with Ted Nelson, he contributed to the first hypertextsystem, Hypertext Editing System (HES) in the late 1960s. He is the co-author of the seminal Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice along with J.D. Foley, S.K. Feiner, and John Hughes which remains the definitive introductory text to the computer graphics field. Dr. van Dam is the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. University Professor of Technology and Education, and Professor of Computer Science at Brown University. He has been a member of Brown’s faculty since 1965, was a co-founder of Brown’s Computer Science Department and its first Chairman from 1979 to 1985, and was also Brown’s first Vice President for Research from 2002-2006. Andy’s research includes seminal work on computer graphics, hypermedia systems, post-WIMP user-interfaces, including immersive virtual reality and pen- and touch-computing, and educational software. He has been working for over four decades on systems for creatingand reading electronic books with interactive illustrations for use in teaching and research. In 1967, Andy co-founded ACM SICGRAPH, the forerunner of SIGGRAPH, and from 1985 through 1987 was Chairman of the Computing Research Association. He is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, and AAAS, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and holds four honorary doctorates. He has authored or co-authored over 100 papers and nine books.

Dr. Kevin Kahn

Dr. Kevin Kahn advises Tactual on corporate strategy and its technology roadmap with a focus on semiconductor industry integration and digital integrated circuit design and fabrication. Dr. Kevin Kahn was previously an Intel Senior Fellow, the corporation’s highest technical position, and Director of Communications Technology in Intel Labs, the corporate advanced development and research labs organization. His responsibilities include all communications technologies including radio, optical, and copper physical layer technologies, CMOS communications circuits work, packet processing, and higher layer protocols. Additionally, he helps drive communications strategies and policy for the corporation. Some of his primary current focuses are broadband access to the home, wireless LANs and PANs, spectrum policy, and related Internet issues. He also chairs the Intel Communications Research Council, which oversees research activities between Intel and academic programs. He currently serves on the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council, the Department of Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee, and on various academic advisory committees. He is a past member of the FCC Technological Advisory Council.

In prior lab assignments Dr. Kahn has played a variety of roles in strategic and technical planning and research. These included managing large labs in operating systems and Internet communications.

Dr. Kahn represents Intel in various industry consortia and various government policy forums. He has lectured widely at Universities in the U.S. and abroad about Intel and personal research activities. He previously served on the National Academy of Science Broadband Last Mile Study Panel, served as the co-chair of the Universal ADSL Working Group, an industry alliance dedicated to accelerating the deployment of consumer ADSL services for higher speed Internet access, and served as a Director of the DSL Forum.

Dr. Kahn joined Intel in 1976 after completing a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Purdue University. Prior to that, he had received an M.S. in Computer Science from Purdue and a B.Sc. in Mathematics from Manhattan College. Throughout his long career with Intel, he has worked in system software development, operating systems, processor architecture, and various strategic planning roles. He has held both management and senior individual contributor roles. He holds multiple patents in processor architecture and communications technologies.

Dr. Kahn is based at Intel’s facility in Hillsboro, Oregon.

Dr. Jonathan Rose

Jonathan Rose is a Professor in the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, where he was chair from 2004-2009. He received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1986 from the University of Toronto. From 1986 to 1989, he was a postdoctoral Scholar and then Research Associate in the Computer Systems Laboratory at Stanford University. In 1989, he joined the faculty of the University of Toronto. He spent the 1995-1996 year as a Senior Research Scientist at Xilinx, in San Jose, CA, working on the Virtex FPGA architecture. From 1989 until 1999 he was an NSERC University Research Fellow.

In October 1998, he co-founded Right Track CAD Corporation, which delivered architecture for FPGAs and Packing, Placement and Routing software for FPGAs to FPGA device vendors. He was President and CEO of Right Track until May 1, 2000. Right Track was purchased by Altera, and became part of the Altera Toronto Technology Centre, where Rose was Senior Director until April 30, 2003. His group at Altera Toronto shared responsibility for the development of the architecture for the Altera Stratix, Stratix II, Stratix GX and Cyclone FPGAs. His group was also responsible for placement, routing, delay annotation software and benchmarking for these devices, and for the placement and routing software for the Altera Apex 20K and Flex 10K FPGAs. From May 1, 2003 to April 30, 2004 Rose held the part-time position of Senior Research Scientist at Altera Toronto. He has worked for Bell-Northern Research and a number of FPGA companies on a consulting basis.

He is the co-founder of the ACM FPGA Symposium . A paper co-authored with Steve Brown won a distinguished paper award at the 1990 ICCAD Conference. He is a Senior Fellow of Massey College in the University of Toronto, a Fellow of the IEEE, a Fellow of the ACM, a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, a Foreign Associate of the American National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Alan Bluestine

Mr. Bluestine is a member of the Advisory Board of the Company with a particular focus on operational, finance and accounting.

Since October of 2007 Mr. Bluestine has been the Chief Operating Officer of RockView Management, LLC (“RockView”), a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Mr. Bluestine brings 21 over 20 years of experience in financial services; 11 years as a Hedge Fund COO at RockView. Prior to joining the Investment Manager, Mr. Bluestine was COO and CFO at Zpoint Advisors LP, a multi-strategy hedge fund with $350 million in assets under management. Mr. Bluestine was responsible for all business operations including marketing/investor relations, operations, accounting, finance, prime brokerage, fund administration, legal and compliance. From 2000 to 2002, Mr. Bluestine was the Executive Vice President of Business Strategy & CFO for Wireless Assets, Inc., an outsourced service provider for the wireless industry. Prior to that, Mr. Bluestine spent eight years at Sands, Brothers & Co., Ltd. as a managing director in investment banking where he was responsible for maintaining private and public company client relationships in a wide variety of industries. During his first four years at Sands he was also the firm’s CFO. Mr. Bluestine began his career in 1988 at Arthur Andersen & Co., where he served as a financial advisor for troubled companies or their creditors for approximately 5 years.

Mr. Bluestine holds a Bachelor of Science from Lehigh University from which he graduated in 1986 and Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University, from which he graduated in 1988.

Press

Press Kit

Tactual Labs' Press Kit was prepared as a resource for press and industry analysts. It contains our inaugural GDC Press Release on our revolutionary Fast Multi-Touch (FMT) capacitive touch sensor, answers to frequently asked questions and a technology white-paper on the importance of zero-latency natural user-interfaces.