Interface Ecology Lab exhibiting multifinger ZeroTouch sensing at ACM CHI in Vancouver

Texas A&M University's Interface Ecology Lab is exhibiting ZeroTouch, a unique optical multi-finger sensing technology, in the ACM CHI 2011 Conference. ZeroTouch allows for zero-force, zero-thickness, completely transparent multi-touch sensing. Unique characteristics enable trivial display integration as compared to other optical multi-touch solutions. ZeroTouch provides a high-framerate, high-resolution solution for robust optical multi-touch sensing in a thin, transparent form-factor.

In comparison with the popular capacitive sensors of Apple's iPhone and iPad, interaction via ZeroTouch requires no pushing by the hand and fingers, greatly reducing muscle fatigue. New forms of free air interaction are also enabled, with more precision, for example, than with Microsoft's Kinect.

At the 2011 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, the premier venue for cutting-edge HCI research and technologies, Texas A&M's Interface Ecology Lab is presenting ZeroTouch in an interactive exhibit.ZeroTouch in action

Dr. Andruid Kerne from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering said the group is showcasing the unique capabilities of this new natural user interface sensing modality with three applications:

  • intangibleCanvas uses the ZeroTouch sensor as a precision free-air interactive input modality, allowing users to reach through the sensor and paint on a projected screen. The embodied interaction enables painting with the elbows, the arms and the head as well as the fingers. intangibleCanvas affords control over brush style, color, and ink flow through a multimodal iPhone interface held in the nondominant hand.
  • Hand + Pen in Hand Command is a multitouch and stylus enabled real-time strategy game. The combination of pen and touch allows for completely new ways of interacting with the game, enabling the user to directly manipulate the map and control and direct units with a level of precision not found in traditional rts interaction. The dominant hand fluidly switches between stylus and direct multitouch interaction, while the nondominant hand uses multitouch to activate command modes. It is built on the open-source Zero-K game engine.
  • ArtPiles is a new curatorial tool for museums and art galleries that gives curators new ways to manipulate large collections of art works when designing exhibits, and historians new ways to organize the collections. Each art work is represented by an image, enhanced with descriptive metadata. The metadata is derived with the Interface Ecology Lab's open source meta-metadata language and architecture. ArtPiles' combination of pen and multi-touch interaction enables new visual and semantic manipulation of the art collection, which are not possible with the pen or touch modalities alone. This research integrates the fields of information semantics, information visualization and interaction design.

Zerotouch is a point-to-point visual hull sensing technology, meaning it uses hundreds of modulated infrared sensors and several infrared LEDs to create a series of invisible light beams that cross the screen. When these beams are interrupted, it means something has touched the screen, and researchers can visualize the interruption of the beams to reconstruct the visual hull of any objects inside the sensor frame.

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