Business Technology

Sunday 25 February 2018

Foggy notions: Computer screen created from mist

The MisTable system combines a conventional interactive table with personal screens made of fog

MisTable supports different types of 3D interaction Photo: University of Bristol
MisTable supports different types of 3D interaction Photo: University of Bristol

Interactive computer screens made from mist could become a feature of future office conference rooms, if a new technology developed by researchers at the University of Bristol takes off.

Professor Sriram Subramanian and Dr Diego Martinez Plasencia, from Bristol’s Department of Computer Science, have developed a tabletop system known as MisTable, combining a conventional interactive table with personal screens, which are projected onto a curtain of fog that hovers between the user and the tabletop surface.

These personal screens are both see-through and reach-through. The see-through feature allows the user to see both the personal screen and the elements behind it on the tabletop. The reach-through feature allows them 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 enables a range of customisations and 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," said Sriram Subramanian, professor of Human-Computer Interaction, in the University’s Bristol Interaction and Graphics group.

"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."

He added that this allows users to break in or out of shared tasks and switch between 'individual' and 'group' work: “Moving content between the tabletop and the personal screen allow users to share it with others or to get exclusive ownership over it," he said.

The research paper will be presented at one of the world’s most important conferences on human-computer interfaces, ACM CHI 2014, which takes place between 26 April and 1 May 2014.

The research team believes MisTable could support new forms of interaction and collaboration in the future.

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