3D TV system lets user touch the images

Japanese researchers have created a 3D TV system that allows viewers to manipulate the image with their hands.

A team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) says its i3Space system uses cameras and haptic technologies to give the users the illusion of being able to stretch, squash and move the 3D images. In one example, a user grasps an image of the Earth and stretches it out into an oval shape.

AIST is envisaging applications in computer aided design and surgical simulation, as well as gaming and entertainment.

i3Space is based on a technology developed by the institute back in 2005, called GyroCubeSensuous, which uses gyroscopes and rotary force-feedback to simulate pushing, drawing and buoyancy. It’s now miniaturized this system to create the new interface. In future, it says, it could perhaps be made compact enough to work with a smartphone.

Small clips attached to the user’s fingertips – they’re comfortable to wear, promises AIST – vibrate when an image is ‘touched’, giving the user feedback. Six motion-detector cameras, angled so as to avoid blind spots, monitor these movements.

The user’s movements are used to generate a computer model of the way the image is being manipulated, which used to transmit a stereoscopic image in real time.

The system is to be presented tomorrow at CEDEC 2010, Japan’s biggest game developers’ conference, at the Pacifico Yokohama convention center. AIST says it’s aiming to develop the system commercially.