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A glimpse through the fog to the future of interactive displays

11 April 2014

Scientists develop a display with screens made from a curtain of mist that allow users to move images and push through the fog-screens and onto the display.

MisTable: reach-through personal screens for tabletops (image courtesy of Bristol Interaction and Graphics group, University of Bristol)
MisTable: reach-through personal screens for tabletops (image courtesy of Bristol Interaction and Graphics group, University of Bristol)

A research paper on the development, to be presented at a conferences on human-computer interfaces - ACM CHI 2014 (26 April-1 May, Toronto), could change the way people interact and collaborate in the future.

'MisTable', led by Professor Sriram Subramanian and Dr Diego Martinez Plasencia from the University of Bristol’s Department of Computer Science, is a tabletop system that combines a conventional interactive table with personal screens, built using fog, between the user and the tabletop surface.

These personal screens are both see-through and reach-through. The see-through feature provides direct line of sight of the personal screen and the elements behind it on the tabletop. The reach-through feature allows the user to switch from interacting with the personal screen to reaching through it to interact with the tabletop or the space above it.

The personal screen allows a range of customisations and novel interactions such as presenting 2D personal content on the screen, 3D content above the tabletop or supplementing and renewing actual objects differently for each user.

“MisTable broadens the potential of conventional tables in many novel and unique ways," says Professor Sriram Subramanian. "The personal screen provides direct line of sight and access to the different interaction spaces. Users can be aware of each other’s actions and can easily switch between interacting with the personal screen to the tabletop surface or the interaction section. This allows users to break in or out of shared tasks and switch between 'individual' and 'group' work.

“Users can also move content freely between these interaction spaces. Moving content between the tabletop and the personal screen allow users to share it with others or to get exclusive ownership over it.  The research team believe MisTable could support new forms of interaction and collaboration in the future.”

With the new system, having personal screens for each user allows the view of each of the users to be customised to them, as well as maintaining all well-established tabletop interface techniques like touch and tangible interactions.

For more information on the paper to be presented at ACM CHI 2014, click here.

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