June 12 - Researchers in the UK have developed a prototype three dimensional screen made of mist, that will allow multiple participants to interact with shared images. The MisTable's inventors say their water-based technology could prove transformative in the business and education sectors. Jim Drury reports.
According to its creators, the MisTable takes motion control to a new level. The interactive device comprises a tabletop display with four personal screens made from a curtain of mist, pumped through a fog machine. UPSOT: MIST University of Bristol researcher Diego Martinez says users can either work alone or collaborate on the device as needs require. SOUNDBITE (English) DIEGO MARTINEZ, POST DOCTORAL RESEARCHER AT UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL, SAYING: "So if you need to do something on your own you can just interact in front of you. At the same time you see what others might be doing and if you want to you just find something that could be interesting for the rest. You can just drop it on the tabletop and share it with others." The device works with two Microsoft Kinect motion sensors which follow the user's hands and head, and a Leap Motion Controller that tracks their fingers. Computer images are reflected by a projector onto fog blown upwards between the user and the tabletop surface. UPSOT: MIST SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR SRI SUBRAMANIAN, OF UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL'S COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT, SAYING: "In this project what we are using is mist, which is a form of water particles which are suspended in mid air and we project onto these water particles, and because when you project light onto these mist particles it diffuses, you will see the content, the diffused light." Team leader, Professor Sriram Subramanian, says its reach-through feature allows the user to push through the fog-screens and onto the display, a capability with multiple potential applications. SOUNDBITE (English) PROFESSOR SRI SUBRAMANIAN, OF UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL'S COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT, SAYING: "If you think of education or if you think of boardroom meetings or if you think of strategic planning scenarios there are always people sitting in a room facing each other making decisions and discussing, where a table of this type would be useful." Before commercialisation, the team want to refine the technology with higher display resolution, making it more attractive to consumers and ensuring the MisTable won't be lost to the mists of time.