A tablet with a no-touch touch screen

Touch-screen displays have come a long way in recent years, as any smart-phone or tablet user can attest. Now, researchers at Intel, Microsoft and the University of Washington are going to the next dimension, with a tablet that can interact with objects around it.

The tablet, called Portico, uses two cameras placed on either side to pick up objects and movements around it. Apps can be written to set up how the screen responds to what’s going on.

"The idea is to allow the interactive space to go beyond the display space or screen space," Jacob Wobbrock, an associate professor at the University of Washington's Information School, told Technology Review.

In a video demonstration on Intel’s website, Daniel Avrahami, a senior researcher at Intel Labs Seattle who led the project, demonstrates a couple ways the tablet can be used.

In one example, he uses a small toy aircraft sitting on the table to direct the movements of an aircraft on screen, shooting down asteroids. In another, he uses a Webkinz zebra to interact with a bucolic scene on screen.

Although the Portico demonstrations so far have involved games, the technology supports a growing interest in using cameras to interpret gestures, Technology Review reports.

Portico’s technology, which will be demonstrated at the UIST 2011 conference in Santa Barbara, Calif., in October, also could be used with smart phones.

Avrahami’s video demonstration is below.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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