This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The pinch and the zoom.
Innovators had the idea for multi-touch screens in their minds and down on paper for years. The true breakthrough in this technology came in 1982. It occurred at the University of Toronto when members of the school’s Input Research Group actually made the first human-input multi-touch screen. Their screen featured a frosted-glass panel with a camera behind. The camera detected when a finger or fingers were placed on the panel and registered these input points as black spots on a white background. This practical application of plural-point awareness released a cascade of further research and design. It was first most evident in the movies and tv shows we watched. Now it’s a fixture on our mobile digital devices, as we pinch and zoom into the future.