(Inside Science TV) – You can touch it with your fingers, with a pen or just come close to touching it.
Computer scientists and engineers at Texas A&M University in College Station have created a virtual air touchpad computer interface. In other words: A touchscreen that requires no touch.
“ZeroTouch is a visual hull sensing technology. It could sense fingers and hands. It could sense objects, too," said Andruid Kerne, a computer scientist at Texas A&M.
ZeroTouch uses crisscrossing beams of invisible light. When something disturbs the path of the light, the system recognizes it as a touch. It can transform any computer monitor or flat space into a touch screen.
It can be mounted on a desktop, over a computer screen or just hang in the air. ZeroTouch allows users to draw or paint pictures in midair, zoom in or out on very large screens, drag text and pictures around, and control and move 3-D objects.
The applications could help professionals like architects, artists, fashion designers and surgeons map out their work. It could also change the way gamers play video games.
One big advantage to ZeroTouch is the price. The research prototype was made using commercially available sensors usually found in TV remote controls. The frame, which wasn't designed for mass production, costs about $450 to construct.
“You’ll be able to take your standard monitor that you have at home and turn it into a multi-touch monitor" at a relatively low cost, said William Hamilton, a Ph.D. student in computer science at Texas A&M.
It's a technology that could make your work more efficient and your playtime more fun.
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Andruid Kerne, Texas A&M University