Team develops walk-on touch-screen for life-size gaming

A German research institute has developed a touch-screen interface that users operate with their feet.

The snappily-named Multitoe, developed at the Hasso Plattner Institute, uses the same frustrated total internal reflection (FTIR) technology as many smaller touch screens.

Light beams are shone into a sandwich of acrylic, silcone and glass, and move around as the pressure from a foot affects them. A camera below captures the image of whatever has pressed down on the floor.

“We based our design on frustrated total internal reflection because its ability to sense pressure allows the device to see users’ soles when applied to a floor,” say the developers.

This allows the system to recognize foot postures and to identify users.

“These two functions form the basis of our system. They allow the floor to ignore inactive users, identify and track users based on their shoes, enable high-precision interaction, invoke menus, as well as track heads and allow users to control several multiple degrees of freedom by balancing their feet,” they say.

One use is in gaming – the developers say they have adapted the system for the game Unreal Tournament by projecting the screen onto the ground. Players move their character around by walking and leaning forward, back or to the side.