Paul Dietz and Darren Leigh, researchers from the Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL), invented DiamondTouch in 2001 and presented the work at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) that same year. [The caffeine-inspired video prepared for this presentation was an instant classic.] Over the following few years, MERL built about 100 DiamondTouch units, lending them to leading computer science research universities around the world. A new field within the human-computer interaction (HCI) research community began to form, examining the potential of direct-touch interfaces, shared-display groupware and tabletop computing.

DiamondTouch first appeared outside the research community at a cocktail reception at the 2004 TED conference and soon after that at the first NextFest sponsored by Wired Magazine. Even before the YouTube-era had started, buzz was building around DiamondTouch.

After making some important design improvements based on feedback from the university field tests and beginning in 2006, MERL started a small, internal business incubation effort, selling DiamondTouch developer’s kits. As the number of users and developers began to grow, user workshops began to form organically, and a DiamondTouch user community was born.

Soon, the business demands of the DiamondTouch product outgrew the incubator at MERL. So in 2008, Circle Twelve Inc was formed, licensing the DiamondTouch technology to carry forward the banner of tabletop computing.

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