Touchscreen tech goes 3D

Paul Raven @ 07-10-2009

People keep doing clever stuff with touchscreen interfaces, despite a continuing dearth of products bigger than a smartphone that actually include one. Some chaps from the University of Potsdam have been working at making a Microsoft Surface touchscreen computer detect items that aren’t necessarily directly in contact with it:

Each Lumino block has a pattern on its base that identifies its 3D shape, and the Surface table can read them using its four internal cameras that peer up at the acrylic top. That means the computer can build up a 3D picture of what lies on its surface.

The Luminos can also make themselves known to the Surface when they’re stacked up, however. They are packed with fibre-optic threads that ferry the pattern of any block placed on top of another down to the screen. So, although a second storey Lumino isn’t in direct contact with the touch screen, the computer knows it’s there.

As blocks stack up, the risk increases that the patterns from different layers of Luminos will become too jumbled for the screen to interpret. But the fibre-optic bundles are angled so that the pattern visible to the screen at the bottom of a stack includes parts of the patterns of all its blocks. That can allow the screen to recognise stacks up to 10 blocks high.

I really want some hardware like that for use as a combined coffee-table and workbench… though I think I’ll wait until someone other than Microsoft is making them.


Making the Wiimote obsolescent – massive multi-touch Missile Command

Paul Raven @ 13-05-2008

Did you ever play Missile Command in the arcades when you were a kid? I’ll bet you thought (more than once) “man, how awesome would it be if you could just touch the screen instead of using that trackball!

Steve Mason evidently thought so, and has taken advantage of multi-touch technology to make a wall-sized version for the serious win:

I know we don’t do many gadget posts at Futurismic these days, but I couldn’t let that one pass by. 🙂 [vid via Engadget]


Subcutaneous touch-screen tattoo

Paul Raven @ 22-02-2008

Yet more potential transhumanist body-modification! File under “you must all send me money until I can afford one of these”:

blood fueled subcutaneous touchscreen display

The strapline for the image on the Physorg report reads: “Waterproof and powered by pizza”. 🙂 [Via Chris Roberson and many others]


Multi-touch computer as an expensive coffee table

Jeremy Eades @ 07-10-2007

It seems like the time is ripe for new technology in the way we view media and interact with computers.  First we saw wearable monitors, and now Microsoft’s come out with a tabletop touch screen with a range of applications.  The Microsoft Surface will be available only to companies at first, so it’s got applications for ordering food, a map function to help you find your way in a mall or hotel, and a jukebox function compatible with the Microsoft Zune ("subject to DRM restrictions, of course").  Possible home functions include Paint, a photo application, and a sort of jigsaw puzzle where each piece displays part of a movie and you must arrange them in the proper order.

At a launch price of $5,000-$10,000, it’s just as well your average Joe won’t be able to buy it.  But Microsoft hopes the price will come down as demand grows and technology gets cheaper.  And when it gets cheap enough, I’ll be there ready to play at being John Anderton (without the cops chasing me, of course).

(image from kjd)