Metaio’s Thermal Touch is an augmented reality interface designed for the future of wearable displays.
These days there’s a lot of talk about augmented reality. All of the interesting devices and possible uses of a platform that adds a digital layer to the physical world are certainly worth talking about, but one issue that doesn’t get much focus, surprisingly, is how we will interact with the digital overlays of the future. What’s exciting about Metaio’s work with Thermal Touch is that by allowing the device to ignore the hand itself and instead focus on a body’s heat signature, there immediately becomes a very clear boundary between active user and passive environment. Suddenly, any surface can be used just like we’d use a touchscreen.
Typical inputs for augmented reality might use QR codes or other specifically positioned markers for the display to recognize them, but the actual user interface is still dependent on the device, as with a smartphone’s touchscreen. With more intuitive systems, which might track a user’s movements using a Kinect-like technology, the amount of processing power needed to constantly determine a body’s position and context in relation to it’s surroundings is intensive and often limiting.
Metaio, in a recent press release, describes a few of the potential applications of their new Thermal Touch device:
Imagine pushing directions to your device simply by touching a static map in a shopping mall, building complex or airport; children could bring play to new levels and launch digital content directly from their toys; design professionals could visualize their digital and 3-D creations on their real world counterparts; and service technicians could pull up information just by touching an object in real life.
Both augmented reality and wearable displays are fairly new fields to consumers, and so the “standard” user interface for these technoloqies is still up in the air. While the Thermal Touch’s thermal imaging camera hasn’t been included in any current devices, the idea is impressive and present an elegant method to consider. Check out the video below to learn more.