It is simply good practice and good scholarship to know the literature and do one's homework when embarking on a new product.
I respect their work and their contribution to the art.
Hopefully some of what I have written here will help. A touch screen display system employing a rear projection display and digital image processing that transforms an otherwise normal sheet of acrylic plastic into a high bandwidth input/output surface suitable for gesture-based interaction.
Demonstrated concept and later implementation of sensing the identity, location and even rotation of multiple physical devices on a digital desk-top display and using them to control graphical objects. Just as there are RGB pixels that can produce light at any location on the screen, so can pixels detect shadows at any location on the screen, thereby enabling multi-touch in a way that is hard for any separate touch technology to match in performance or, eventually, in price.
The problem is that most people, especially consumers (but including too many designers) do not have enough experience to understand many of these issues. Bricks: Laying the foundations for graspable user interfaces.
This is an area where we could all use some additional work. Proceedings of the ACMSIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'95), 442449.
Such historical examples are important reminders that it is human capability, not technology, that should be front and centre in our considerations.
While making such capabilities accessible at reasonable costs may be a challenge, it is worth remembering further that the same thing was also said about multi-touch.This has the potential of getting out of hand and our becoming overwhelmed by a proliferation of gadgets gadgets that are on their own are simple and effective, but collectively do little to reduce the complexity of functioning in the world.Yet, traditionally our better tools have followed this approach.The risk here is a kind of "jack of all trades, master of nothing" compromise.One path offered by touch-screen driven appliances is this: instead of making a device with different buttons and dials mounted on it, soft machines just draw a picture of the devices, and let you interact with them. It just means that they are distinct devices with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. "A Multi-finger Interface for Performance Animation of Deformable Drawings." Demonstration at UIST 2005 Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, Seattle, WA, October 2005.In short, the evolution of multi-touch is a text-book example of what I call "The Long Nose of Innovation." So, to shed some light on the back story of this particular technology, I offer this brief and incomplete summary of some of the landmark examples that I have been involved with, known about and/or encountered over the years.