We’ve seen Microsoft’s Surface and 3D TVs. A German R&D firm is combining the two concepts in the iPoint 3D, a “touch screen” that allows users to manipulate 3D images in real time. Users interact with the 3D data without having to use data gloves or glasses. The system responds instantly to a user’s hand movements, the hand acting as a mouse. “The finger is the remote control of the future,” says Paul Chojecki, spokesperson for the project. iPoint 3D (picture above) is comprised of a TV and a recognition device made up of two FireWire cameras which reads users’ hand motions and transmits them to the computer. The recognition device, about the size of a keyboard, can be placed above the user or on a desk in front of them.

The real benefit of the iPoint 3D would be seen in environments that require hands-free control of a computer, such as hospitals, offices and kitchens.

"Since the interaction is entirely contactless, the system is ideal for scenarios where contact between the user and the system is not possible or not allowed, such as in an operating room," said Chojecki.

The iPoint 3D can also be used to control other devices. Someone cooking, whose hands are covered in food, can use it to turn down the heat under water boiling on the stove.

The iPoint 3D was developed by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications at the Heinrich-Hertz-Institut in Berlin. It will be presented March 3-8 at the CeBIT trade show in Hannover, Germany.

[credit photo]

By Mark Alvarez