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It's the Multi-touch SDK's Stupid!

I remember when Clinton (the Husband) was running for president against Bush (the Father) back in 1992. The slogan for the Clinton campaign was, "It's the Economy Stupid!". The point was that while Bush Sr. was doing well on foreign policy he was disconnected from the realities of the US population which was in the midst of a recession. True or not the slogan stuck and variations of it have been used ever since.

While I'm very excited to see so many multi-touch and touch mobile devices (e.g. iPhone, Palm Pre, HTC Touch Pro) and multi-touch desktops (MacBook Pro, HP TouchSmart TX2, Dell Latitude XT2), tables (Microsoft Surface, Ideum MT2, SMART Table, GestureTek Illuminate, IntuiFace 2G, Perceptive Pixel, Multitouch Cell, iTable, Teliris, CUBIT), as well as operating systems (Windows 7, Mac Snow leapard) I'm a bit discouraged by the lack of SDKs available.

The Apple iPhone and Microsoft Surface have SDKs but a lot of other devices do not. What's the point of having a multi-touch device if third party vendors cannot create applications for it?

Take Windows 7 for example, according to roomers it may be out the end of this year but a multi-touch SDK won't be available for Windows 7 until WPF 4.0 is released. When will that happen? HP TouchSmart has multi-touch but no SDK that I'm aware of. Some multi-touch tables such as Ideum's MT2 offer an SDK (via NUI Group's open source Touchlib or commercial Snowflake gesture systems) but many others including IntuiFace 2G and SMART Table do not. Android has built in support for multi-touch but you won’t find it in the Android SDK.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm the one who is stupid. Maybe all these devices offer SDKs and I just can't find them. I would love it if the vendors corrected me on every count! (Please include pointers if you know of an SDK)

Attention vendors: If multi-touch developers cannot develop applications for your multi-touch device then your product's support for multi-touch is little more than a gimmick. While having multi-touch capable devices is really important, having SDKs released with those products is just as important. I suppose in the scheme of things the device must come first, but really can't vendors do more to provide SDKs as well?

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More Stories By Richard Monson-Haefel

Richard Monson-Haefel, an award-winning author and technical analyst, owns Richard Monson-Haefel Consulting. Formerly he was VP of Developer Relations at Curl Inc. and before that a Senior Analyst at The Burton Group. He was the lead architect of OpenEJB, an open source EJB container used in Apache Geronimo, a member of the JCP Executive Committee, member of JCP EJB expert groups, and an industry analyst for Burton Group researching enterprise computing, open source, and Rich Internet Application (RIA) development.

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