Metaio Unveils Thermal Imaging for Augmented Reality

The world becomes a touch screen. That's the idea behind Metaio's new technology that brings the physical and augmented world together. Called Thermal Touch, this tech goes beyond Google Glass, allowing users to interact with an interface whether it's displayed on a coffee table or on the pages of a magazine.

"Everyone is talking about wearable computing eyewear like Google Glass," said Metaio CTO Peter Meier, "but no one is talking about the best way to actually use those devices. We need natural, convenient interface to navigate the technology of tomorrow, and that's why we developed Thermal Touch."

The prototype currently includes a standard and infrared camera working together on a tablet. When a person touches a surface with a finger, the prototype registers the heated spot and supplements the experience with AR and computer vision." Swipe across the surface, and the tech will move the virtual augmented object as well.

In one scenario offered in a demo video (shown below), two users sat across from each other at a table. One of them touched the table, activating a virtual chess set. Both participants were able to interact with the same chess set. In another scenario, a Thermal Touch user was able to change the color of a model automobile's hood by simply touching the plastic. Another scenario showed a participant selecting a yellow raincoat in an advert to be added to a list.

"Imagine pushing directions to your device simply by touching a static map in a shopping mall, building complex or airport; children could bring play to new levels and launch digital content directly from their toys; design professionals could visualize their digital and 3-D creations on their real world counterparts; and service technicians could pull up information just by touching an object in real life," states the PR.

Right now Thermal Touch is merely a prototype, so don't expect Minority Report interactions any time soon. The company wanted to merely show what it's up to, and the possibilities Thermal Touch can bring to augmented reality. The team believes that we may be around five years away from seeing something solid in terms of a commercial product.

More: Check out 7 other AR and VR technologies here