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Friday, March 1, 2013

Transparent screen lets you 'reach inside' your computer

An MIT grad student has developed a transparent display system that allows the user to "reach inside" and directly manipulate elements onscreen with their hands.
The SpaceTop 3D technology which allows "seamless interaction with digital information" was unveiled during developer Jinha Lee's TED talk in California this week. It is the result of a project begun during an internship with Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group.

"The gap between what the designer thinks and what the computer can do is huge," Lee told the BBC, referencing the disjunct between physical creation and CAD programs. "If you can put your hands inside the computer and handle digital content you can express ideas more completely."
The system uses two depth cameras from Microsoft's Kinect motion sensing peripheral, which are pointed behind and in front of a transparent LCD or OLED screen.
The one aimed behind the screen monitors hand movements and is used "to track the 3D position of the index finger, to recognise pinching gestures or to support multi-touch gestures on the surface." The one aimed in front keeps track of the user's head position to ensure the perspective on the 3D display is showing correctly.
For tasks not suited to gesture control such as typing, the system also offers the ability to switch between the 3D controls and traditional input devices such as a trackpad and keyboard.
The project is still very much at the development stage but the explanatory video (which you can watch in this story) points towards its use in prototyping and other design spaces as well as general day-to-day computing.


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