Touchscreen interfaces and gesture control input devices are shaping the way we interact with information and media in general. Various technology companies have tinkered with the idea of reusable electronic paper, which is essentially a flexible touchscreen that emulates the traditional feel of a newspaper. Japanese technology giant Fujitsu is expanding the concept by actually applying a digital layer to paper and transforming it into a touchscreen.
The touchscreen paper developed by Fujitsu makes use of existing technology, such as digital projectors and web cams, to provide a next-generation level of augmented reality. Essentially, Fujitsu’s technology acts like an advanced scanner that allows users to use their fingers to process and manipulate content on a printed page.
Fujitsu’s image processing technology works by means of projection and proximity. The company’s prototype touchscreen paper device can rest on a surface and project a digital desktop, similar to existing projection keyboards. Users can rest today’s newspaper in front of the device and manipulate it with their fingers. A picture printed on paper can be copied to digital storage, text can be selected and submitted to a search engine, and post-it notes can be quickly stored and filed into a time management application such as Outlook.
Gesture control devices such as Microsoft Kinect already allow users to control devices; what Fujitsu aims to do is bring the digital and analog dimensions together through the magic of image processing. Fujitsu thinks that this technology can be put to great use in settings such as banks, travel agencies and governmental offices to improve efficiency and cut down on bureaucracy, but advanced image processing also presents great potential for online social networking.
Today’s real-time social media updates beg to be improved by augmented reality. This is something that Google Glass is aiming to provide to some extent, but users would like to be able to share more than just text, pictures, audio, and video. Sharing the contents of antique books from the Library of the Benedictine Monastery of Admont in Austria through gestures and image processing in real-time would be a welcome addition to social networks.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Oracle_Photos_Screenshots