Next-gen tablets with Minority Report-like controls in development

Credit: Dreamworks Pictures

Tablets are about to get a serious and overdue upgrade. For years now, you've been able to play 3D games on handheld devices like the Nintendo 3DS. You've been able to flail about haphazardly before your TV playing games through either Kinect and Wii. Now, a new display in development is aiming to marry these two gaming realities into one sleek new interface that's straight out of Minority Report.

The new screen tech is being called "3D Air-Touch". It's a pretty straightforward name for a tech that creates 3D objects in the space before you and lets you physically interact with them. You won't even need Tom Cruise's silly half-gloves to play along. You won't need a controller of any sort, actually — not even a Leap Motion sensor. Instead, all the tech you'll need to interact with your 3D images is built into the screen itself.

The problem with sensors like the Leap Motion is that they require certain levels of ambient light to be effective. 3D Air-Touch provides its own light, thanks to an infrared backlight built into your tablet. Similarly, the optical sensors that track your hand gestures are embedded directly into your tablet's 3D display. Additional angular scanning illuminators around the screen's edge work to triangulate your hand's position, ensuring an accurate 3D interface.

At its current stage, the 3D Air-Touch screen is a single-touch, four-inch screen with only three centimeters of depth in its air-touch control field. The good news is that we're still dealing with a proof-of-concept model and not some design concept or production model. Once a few yield rate and sensor uniformity bugs are worked out, the researchers can move on to building a better, more interactive model — one which they're confident will become available in the near future.

IEEE Xplore, via

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