Researchers Develop Mobile Device Controlled by Touching its Back, Not the Screen

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Fingertip-controlled mobile devices are all the rage in the wake of the iPhone’s release, but these have a drawback: in order to tap on the display, it’s necessary for the user to put their hand in front of the device, so they can’t actually see what they are trying to touch.

Researchers at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs (MERL) and Microsoft Research are developing LucidTouch — a technology that addresses this problem by letting the user control the device by touching its back.

A camera located on the rear on a prototype unit allows it to display a transparent overlay of the user’s hands on the display. This allows the user to select small items on the screen without occluding them with their fingers.

"We’re trying to address the problem of occlusion by giving the user an idea of their input, while still being able to see through the hands to the screen," Daniel Wigdor from MERL told New Scientist Tech.

The group is currently working to improve the design by removing the camera. "We could use LEDs to record the movement, because they are both emitters and sensors," says Wigdor. They are also exploring other options, like using a touchpanel.

This technology could do wonders on Tablet PCs. Just think of how easy it would be to use your finger to do all the work instead of a pen or typing. Maybe this is what the future holds.

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