A Better Touch Screen

In a Microsoft prototype, your fingers don’t cover up what you’re looking at.

As touch screens shrink, one of the biggest problems users face is that their fingers cover up what they’re trying to look at. An experimental setup from researchers at Microsoft and Mitsubishi lets people essentially touch their screens from the back. A semitransparent image of their fingers is superimposed on the front of the display.

To build their prototype, the researchers glued a touch pad to the back of a conventional touch-screen device; then they added a Web camera that captures an image of the user’s hand. Software creates the semitransparent representation of the hand, correlating its position with that of the real hand. Having built an experimental but admittedly impractical version of the device, the researchers are now exploring versions that could be commercially ­viable. One approach involves a touch pad with an array of capacitors whose electrical charge is altered by the proximity of the user’s fingers. In another, arrays of single-pixel light sensors would map the fingers’ location.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus ad-free web experience, select discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly magazine delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website

    The Download: our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation

    Access to the magazine PDF archive—thousands of articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips

    Special discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.