Everybody these days seems to want the latest and greatest in new technology and who could blame them? With a banquet of gadgets on the table, there are so many to choose from; but what is the fascination with touch-screens? Maybe we all watched far too much Star Trek when we were younger (in my case, now). The problem is that touch-enabled surfaces tend to cost more than their non-touch standard counterparts. Well, it appears as though this trend is no more.
A low cost system called STATINA developed by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) relies on the principles of vibration and imaging to track the movements of multiple fingers and of objects to achieve the same thing. With this technology it will be possible to retrofit existing flat-panel TVs and transform them into new, touch sensitive displays, at only a fraction of the cost of a new touch-sensitive display screen.
By using a few vibration sensors (which are not costly) and a specially developed algorithm, the system can pinpoint the location of a light tap on any surface. When further equipped with web-cameras, this system can also track the movements of multiple fingers or objects on any surface.
NTU Assistant Professor Andy Khong, who led the research, says STATINA has been proven on different types of large surfaces; for instance, the system was used to transform surfaces such as glass, aluminium, wooden tables, steel, and even plastics into low-cost touch screens. “It means in future, you could play computer games or draw sketches on walls or windows since almost all surfaces can be made touch-sensitive with our system,” says Prof Khong. He and his team of researchers are now working to commercialize their invention by developing a more compact system and expanding its capabilities to include tracking of fingers and stylus movements using optical cameras. The researches at NTU have recently won the Prestigious Engineering Achievement Award 2012, presented by The Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) last December.
The Star Trek of yesteryear is almost upon us…