Some interesting details have just been released of a new 3D touchscreen which the people at Microsoft are working on. The idea is that an LCD flat panel screen shows 3D images which the user can feel and manipulate.
The research team at Microsoft’s Redmond campus close to Seattle say that it works due to having force sensors and a robotic arm, which is used to move the screen backwards and forwards. The system calculates how much force is applied by the user’s fingertip and uses that to work out the size and the weight of the objects which appear on the screen.
While gaming applications spring immediately to mind, the word from Microsoft is that this new development could also be used for medical reasons too.
Getting the Right Resistance
The key to this system is in working out how to calculate exactly the right level of resistance for each object which is shown on the screen. For example, if you see a 3D feather and a 3D anvil on the screen then you would expect one of them to be able to be pushed back with your fingertip a lot easier than the other one.
Michael Pahud is a senior researcher working on the project and he says that it they “do the convergence correctly” then the visually will be in line with the perception the user receives from their fingertip and that this would be enough for the person’s brain to “accept the virtual world as real”.
One of the most potentially useful uses for this type of 3D touchscreen could be that of allowing doctors to explore body scans of patients to look for possible problems, even doing it remotely while the person being examined is on the other side of the world.