Technology Of The Future Seen Through A Curtain Of Mist
April 12, 2014

UK Developers Create Reach-Through Displays For Tabletops

[ Watch the Video: MisTable: A Peek Through The Mist Shows Technology Of The Future ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Researchers from the University of Bristol have reportedly developed a new reach-through tabletop display with personal screens comprised of a curtain of mist, according to research scheduled to be presented later this month at an international conference on human-computer interaction.

The paper will be presented at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, which runs from April 26 through May 1 in Toronto, and will describe a device that allows users to move images around and push them through fog screens and onto the display, the study authors explained in a statement on Friday.

The device is known as MisTable and it is described as a tabletop system that combines a traditional interactive table with personal monitors built using fog between the user and the table’s surface. According to Professor Sriram Subramanian and Dr. Diego Martinez Plasencia of the university’s Department of Computer Science, the device could eventually change how people interact and collaborate with each other.

The developers explain that the screens will be see-through, which will allow users to easily see both the screen and the people or items located behind it on the tabletop, and reach-through, which will make it possible to keep the display up while interacting with the tabletop or the space above it. The personal screen will also allow unique customization options or interactions, such as putting 2D content on the screen and 3D content above the surface.

“MisTable broadens the potential of conventional tables in many novel and unique ways,” explained Subramanian. “The personal screen provides direct line of sight and access to the different interaction spaces. Users can be aware of each other's actions and can easily switch between interacting with the personal screen to the tabletop surface or the interaction section.”

“This allows users to break in or out of shared tasks and switch between ‘individual’ and ‘group’ work,” he added. “Users can also move content freely between these interaction spaces. Moving content between the tabletop and the personal screen allow users to share it with others or to get exclusive ownership over it. The research team believe MisTable could support new forms of interaction and collaboration in the future.”

The device will make it possible to supplement and renew actual objects uniquely for each user. Furthermore, having personal screens for each user make it possible for them to be customized to each screen, while still maintaining previously established tabletop interface techniques such as touch and tangible interactions, the authors said.