A new prototype of a tablet computer, which has been developed by Intel, Microsoft and University of Washington, can be controlled by touching surfaces other than the display of the device.
The new device, which is named Portico, may well end up taking the touch beyond the confines of the touchscreen of the tablet itself.
“The idea is to allow the interactive space to go beyond the display space or screen space,” says Jacob Wobbrock, a computer scientist at the University of Washington. The new method of interaction is achieved with the help of two cameras which are placed over the display on two sides. The cameras first detect motion around the screen and then interpret the command given by the users.
In a demonstration, a ball was placed on the surface where the tablet was placed. The cameras of the tablet then tracked the ball and when the ball touched the side wall of the tablet, a virtual ball appeared on the screen as if the real ball entered the screen.
In another example, users could control a virtual toyship on the screen through the real toyship located on the surface where the tablet was placed.
Wobbrock said, “As devices continue to shrink, they compromise the screen space. But with Portico you can reclaim the surrounding area for interactivity”.
With the new prototype device Portico, the area for interaction with the tablet increases six times. So a 12 inch screen begins to behave like a 26 inch screen. Since the area of interaction is moving beyond the tablet, the new challenge would be to communicate where interactive area ends.