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Multi-touch display can 'see' objects too

October 22, 2007 | Chris Payatagool

nstechlogo.gifA computer screen that also acts as a two-handed touch interface and
a crude infrared camera has been developed by researchers at
Microsoft's labs in the UK.


Users can operate the display with both hands, in a similar manner to the display in the film Minority Report. But this screen can also recognize particular hand gestures as well as objects placed within a centimeter of its surface.

"It can sense much more than fingers, and is essentially a low resolution scanner and camera," says lead researcher Shahram Izadi. The screen can even communicate wirelessly with other devices nearby using the same infrared technology it uses to see.

The technology - dubbed ThinSight - was developed by adding an extra layer of electronics behind a normal laptop screen. This adds a couple of centimetres to the overall thickness, but completely transforms its abilities.

dn12798-1_350.jpg

The screen "sees" by using a grid of paired infrared sensors and transmitters that sit just behind the backlight of the laptop's LCD panel. The sensors can form crude images when infrared light bounces off an object (see images, right). This could allow the screen to identify hand gestures or to see objects, and let them interact with onscreen images.

Apple has already filed a patent on a display that works as a webcam,using cameras in between its pixels. And Sharp has unveiled a small LCD display that can scan business cards, or detect the touch of a single finger.



[via New Scientist Tech]







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