July 31 - Researchers in Taiwan are developing a wearable computer that allows users to navigate its controls on a 3D virtual display that seemingly floats in mid-air. Ben Gruber reports.
A user perceives a 3 dimensional display that floats approximately 40 centimetres in front of their face... when in fact it's being projected on the lenses of a pair of wearable glasses. ITRI's Golden Tiao says the device uses a depth camera that records a user's hand movements. These movements are then processed and displayed on the monitors in the glasses. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) DEPUTY GENERAL DIRECTOR OF ITRI ELECTRONICS AND OPTOELECTRONICS RESEARCH LABORATORIES GOLDEN TIAO SAYING: "The greatest challenge in this technology lies in the head mounted device -- the image is displayed right in front of the user's eyes while the depth camera captures the hand and finger gestures. These two things, the visual display output and the image captured by the cameras, must precisely aligned together to allow the system to work." The current prototype is capable of dialling a phone and sketching... but Tiao says these functions are just the beginning. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) DEPUTY GENERAL DIRECTOR OF ITRI ELECTRONICS AND OPTOELECTRONICS RESEARCH LABORATORIES GOLDEN TIAO SAYING: "This wearable device works wherever a user goes because the display device is transparent and it does not block the person from the outside world. A user could be sending messages or navigating the Internet while still interacting with the outside world at any time." The researchers hope to commercialise "Air Touch" within two years and estimate the initial cost at around $500 USD.