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Paper Screens Could Provide Depth to Computer Display

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Infrared-reflecting markers on a piece of paper allows a ceiling-mounted camera to calculate the position of the paper and display a diagnostic medical image on the Paperlens system's table-top screen.

Credit: New Scientist

Researchers at Germany's University of Magdeburg have designed an inexpensive interface system that uses a ceiling-mounted projector and an infrared camera to detect the placement of objects on a horizontal, table-top screen. A special piece of paper called a Paperlens carries infrared-reflecting markers, which are tracked by the ceiling-mounted camera, enabling the computer to calculate the position and orientation of the Paperlens with an accuracy within 1 centimeter in all directions. Data on the position of the paper is sent to the projector, which can then project an image onto the Paperlens, providing information relevant to the main image displayed on the table-top screen. Images also can be stacked on top of each other to create a three-dimensional image.

Several applications for the Paperlens have already been demonstrated, including using it as a magnifying glass for an image displayed on the table top. "The most important contribution from our point of view is not the technology itself but the systematic usage of the space above the table top," says Magdeburg's Raimund Dachselt, the leader of the Paperlens team.

Queen's University's Roel Vertegaal says the Paperlens system breaks from traditional desktop designs and offers a "new way of computing."

View a video on how Paperlens displays a multi-level image on a tabletop screen.

From New Scientist
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