June 30 - Researchers at the University of Tokyo are developing indoor projection technology that incorporates a sense of touch for interactive devices of the future. The system emits ultrasonic waves to generate pressure a user can feel and could one day render keyboards, smartphones, and even pens obsolete. Ben Gruber has more.
Lose your smartphone? Professor Masatoshi Ishikawa from the University of Tokyo says those days are numbered. He's developing interactive projection technology that will keep mobile devices close at hand..literally. SOUNDBITE - UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE INFORMATICS, PROFESSOR MASATOSHI ISHIKAWA, SAYING: "I think it will be such that we could just open our palms and that can become the smartphone or we could even be notified of an incoming email just by stretching out our arms." The system comprises tracking technology, computer vision and rotational mirrors that ensure a projected image always stays centred on its target in three dimensional space. SOUNDBITE - UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO DEPARTMENT OF CREATIVE INFORMATICS, PROFESSOR MASATOSHI ISHIKAWA, SAYING: "The technology is based on high-speed motion tracking which is about tracking the world faster than the human eye can. By doing that, humans won't even know they are being assisted by technology." The computer will not only keep a keypad in position, it will sense finger movement on individual numbers and dial them for you. But Ishikawa also wants people to actually feel the projections. So he fitted the system with oscillators that beam ultrasonic waves along with the projected image. The waves generate pressure on the skin much like the tactile sensation people feel when pressing buttons on a smartphone screen. The research team is now focused on bringing the system out of the lab and into the real world...with the hopes of developing a commercial product within a decade.