A team from Tokyo's University of Electro-Communications has created a system that creates an interactive surface from a tub of opaque water, basically "[taking] immersive entertainment to a whole new level."
Researchers from Koike Laborartory at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications have come up with an ingenious alternative to bringing a tablet or smartphone into the bathtub: Their AquaTop Display combines a projector, a Microsoft Kinect depth camera, and a computer to create a system that turns a tub full of water into a truly unique interface. The key is to make the water milky white — and thus an ideal projection surface — using special bath salts. The camera tracks the movement of fingers both above and below the water, allowing for actions such as deleting images from the surface by “grabbing” them from below and pulling them under. To add to the experience, the tub contains built-in waterproof speakers and LEDs.
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What’s the Big Idea?
A prototype demonstration video shows a tub that’s only big enough for a small child to bathe in, but the entertainment potential for larger enclosures could be huge. For now, the team only sought to show the benefits of a platform that brings the action closer to the user and takes advantage of natural interface motions that are impossible with standard computers and touchscreen displays.
A Finnish team made crowdsourcing a literal public affair by setting up large touchscreens in busy areas and watching passersby as they performed basic research tasks with them. The results were on par with those of paid online volunteers.