April 1 - Researchers in Japan are developing interactive touch screens that appear to float in mid-air. The scientists believe their technology represents the future of 3D digital interaction, for use in hospital operating theaters or other environments where gesture technology is more appropriate than screen touch systems. Rob Muir reports.
It's an interactive screen that floats in mid-air. Light produced by a hidden LED screen and bounced off a retro-reflective surface through a one-way mirror, creates images in space that co-developer Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa says takes floating screen technology into a new realm. (SOUNDBITE) PROFESSOR MASATOSHI ISHIKAWA, TOKYO UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "One of the biggest differences is that compared to those displays created up to this point the angle of view has been greatly increased. In addition to that, we've managed to add on gesture recognition - and extremely fast recognition at that - so that's one of the biggest changes." That recognition allows for highly responsive image manipulation. Stereo cameras overhead take pictures hundreds of times per second, tracking a user's hand and finger gestures as they swipe at or punch the floating images on the screen. Computer software then translates those gestures into commands. (SOUNDBITE) PROFESSOR MASATOSHI ISHIKAWA, TOKYO UNIVERSITY, SAYING: "In hospitals and such during surgery when one's hands are dirty its still possible to use this or to use it in a variety of situations at a construction site." Another potential application is gaming. Ishikawa and co-developer Professor Hirotsugu Yamamoto say they hope to have a version of their system commercialy available in 2015.