Categorized | Technology

Crafting a Thriller Spawns Touchless, Holographic Interface Technology

While writing a novel about a Manhattan lawyer who is building a loan-sharking business in what’s left of the Soviet Union that attracts the interest of a Middle Eastern dictator, I conceived the idea of a video projector controlled by passing a finger through colorful holographic images floating freely in the air and then thought of the universe of applications for touchless, holographic human-machine interfaces.

My ideas pointed me toward developing and commercializing widely patented HoloTouch® touchless, holographic human-machine interface technology, now owned by HoloTouch, Inc., a veteran-owned Delaware corporation (, my company. Our initial round of patents addressed any interaction with holographic images which is detected by wave sources such as infrared or lasers to operate electronic or electro-mechanical equipment. Subsequent patents and patent applications have dealt with increasingly sophisticated designs of touchless, holographic HMIs as well as enhanced methods of recording holograms. HoloTouch technology is already patented in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and Japan, with additional patent applications pending in Germany, the E.U., Canada and Japan.

Our technology lets people operate a wide range of electronic and electro-mechanic equipment by merely passing a finger through colorful holographic images floating freely in the air. Devices using our technology are intuitive and have no moving parts to fail under use or abuse and no hygiene problems because there’s nothing to actually touch when operating them. One iteration of HoloTouch technology (picture at the right) is installed at Yale-New Haven Hospital (affiliated with Yale University), where it’s used to open doors without actually touching anything, in an environment where contamination and disease transfer are critical concerns, and management is wary of the expense and disruption caused by the need to regularly replace tactile switches destroyed by the public use or abuse. This unit fits into a standard NEC wall box, operates on 110 or 240VAC and can actuate devices drawing up to 8 amps. Design and engineering work we completed to produce this switch demonstrates how easily and inexpensively HoloTouch technology can be customized to specific devices.

People come to us because we offer better human-machine interfaces: intuitive controls that allow people to interact only with colorful holographic images floating freely in the air, with nothing to actually touch and no moving parts. Unlike other touchless controls, ours guide users to easy operation without having to learn special gestures and without the unnecessary complications of voice recognition.

We’ve been ramping up our business since our first U.S. patent issued in 2002, offering licenses of HoloTouch technology for use in specific devices and whatever design or engineering services are needed to supplement the skills of our licensees in customizing our technology to how they want their specific touchless HMIs to look, feel and function.

Interest in our technology spans the globe. This wide appeal makes, our Web site ( an invaluable tool in growing our business, which is self-funded. Having represented venture capitalists while practicing securities law in Manhattan, I’m attuned to the risks involved in taking in venture capital during early stages of business development, some of which include the push from early investors to grow too fast, sacrificing careful development for short-terms gains in order to satisfy investor appetites and the complications of possibly involving outside investors in day-to-day management.

As the result of patent prosecution expenses, government filing and file maintenance fees and our own product development expenses, we’re operating in the red with a relatively long sales cycle although we’re poised to break into the black in the near future. Our objective is to grow revenues while building our intellectual property portfolio. If an exit strategy in the form of being acquired by a larger organization presents itself, we would evaluate it. Having spent much of my prior legal career representing companies in their acquisition and divestiture activities, we’re prepared for a variety of exit options without the need to do so quickly.

Drawing on my experience in senior management positions in start-up companies which raised capital and spent it quickly on oversized expenses and our nation’s military, we’ve kept our business operations lean, reaching out to retain those with specific skills when absolutely necessary. HoloTouch, Inc. has only one permanent employee who is presently unpaid. Electronics engineers, patent lawyers, mechanical engineers, holographers, accountants and other consultants who help our company when needed currently number eleven.

The best advice I ever received: “sometimes the best deal is the one you don’t do.”

R. Douglas McPheters

As a recovering business law, mergers and acquisitions and securities lawyer, formerly in private practice, it has been difficult to shift gears from advising clients as a lawyer and implementing business decisions of others to managing my own business. A secondary challenge, because I was ethically prohibited as an attorney from soliciting new clients for work, has been to become more comfortable in reaching out to potential customers, making sales and responding directly to the needs of customers. These different activities now involve selling, often by making cold calls or responding to a surprising range of inquiries through our Web site about our innovative technology.

Another real challenge has been finding dependable suppliers who can be effective in “yes” means “yes” and “no” means “no” relationships, something that seems straight-forward but is surprisingly elusive in practice despite our problematic economy. Success will likely include synchronizing supplier and customer expectations and objectives.

HoloTouch, Inc.
info at
Phone: 203.588.9808

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