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Holographic Keypads Float Into View

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  • The CEO of International Bomb Corporation dropped a bombshell today, causing an explosion of controversy.

    And that's .. part of our world.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:04PM (#6608969)
    Isn't it hard enough surfing for porn with one hand already?
  • input devices that literally "float in the air".

    No comment. None at all.
  • What about hexadecimal and dvorak (or other more efficient layouts)? Let's transition there first.
    • Yeah, but what if you only have one eye? You can't see a hologram with only one eye. There's a whole bag of "this is not handicap accessible" with their name on it.

      Not to mention, I like command line consoles. I guess its just that old style charm. I think I prefer plain old buttons under my fingers too. Maybe you could learn to type fast on a hologram, but with no physical feedback, it seems like it would be a royal pain to type at any great speed.

      • You're right. People with low vision (blind) would also not seem to be in the market for this sort of device either. However, not every device has to work well (or at all) for everyone.

        There are ways however that this technology could still be used for people with vision disabilities, by having a tone sound until their hands are "correctly" positioned over the home keys, for instance. Then a unique tone, or sounding out of the letters as they're "pressed".

        Of course, if the output is only on a screen, th

        • by loucura! (247834)
          The only problem, is security, if it's sending out a unique tone for each keypress, then to get username/password pairs, all you'll is a tape recorder, you could do it from far away too, with a uni-directional shotgun mic. That would be a bad thing.
          • True, but then accessing a secure system via a public terminal isn't generally a good idea either.

            Especially if you're vision impaired and can't tell if someone is "looking-over-your-shoulder".

      • Re:look before leap (Score:5, Informative)

        by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:26PM (#6609218) Journal
        Uh... people with only one eye can't see the 3D aspect of a hologram. They can see a 2D picture just fine.

        If they move their head, then they can see the 3d aspect as well.

        One eyed folks will do just fine here.
      • Not sure that's quite right. I only have one eye and I've been able to see any holos I've looked at it's that damned 3D that I can't get past....

        Still, it's the tactile feel of the keyboard that would be hard to move away from.
      • Re:look before leap (Score:4, Interesting)

        by merlin_jim (302773) <James,McCracken&stratapult,com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:44PM (#6609377)
        You can't see a hologram with only one eye

        Poppy cock. Of course you can see a hologram with only one eye!

        You just can't see a stereoscopic vision allowing you to definitely position the object in three dimensional space. But the eyes use other cues than stereoscopic vision to determine position, cues like parallax and brightness, as well as ocular focus.
        • You just can't see a stereoscopic vision allowing you to definitely position the object in three dimensional space. But the eyes use other cues than stereoscopic vision to determine position, cues like parallax and brightness, as well as ocular focus.


          Yeah, but these holograms are projected from a reasonably small screen, so they probably use stereoscopic separation to produce the holographic keypad. Without stereoscopic cues, I think you'd have quite a hard time trying to find the intersection of the p
          • Re:look before leap (Score:3, Informative)

            by merlin_jim (302773)
            Yeah, but these holograms are projected from a reasonably small screen, so they probably use stereoscopic separation to produce the holographic keypad.

            Actually, the patent as written doesn't work. The patent indicates they are using traditional film holography, which cannot be projected from a small screen. For a discussion about the subject, see this post [slashdot.org].

            I'm not saying this display would be extremely useable for a one-eyed person; I know from experience it would not. While I am still blessed with two
      • "Not to mention, I like command line consoles. I guess its just that old style charm. I think I prefer plain old buttons under my fingers too. "

        Who said the intention here was to replace every keyboard with it? It's another display / input technology. No need to touch anything so nothing gets worn down. Also, because of the technique used to project it, it has a unique look you can spot rather easily.

        It's a new type of doohickey that some places will find useful. Kiosks come to mind. Microsoft's not
    • Technology like this would probably help to provide greater options for keyboard layouts. Instead of having to have a "hard" keyboard attached to the device, with tech. like this, the user could select from a list of options.

      Seems like a step in the right direction to me.

      Now we'll just need to get the tactile feel right :)

    • "What about hexadecimal and dvorak (or other more efficient layouts)? Let's transition there first. "

      Yeah, let's move the buttons around on the keyboard before we give people tactile-less keybords!

      Seriously, though, I don't see why we need to transition to antyhing first. Qwerty is defacto and nobody is complaining about it.
  • by dogas (312359) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:06PM (#6609001) Homepage

    I don't know about you, but the first thing I did when I got to that page was download the gigantic 500k image of the Holotouch president's gigantic yellow-toothed bald HEAD. Talk about putting a pretty face on the industry! yeah...

  • This sounds similar to the devices that were used in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. I have been anxiously awaiting these sorts of gadgets ever since seeing that movie. With a few extra advances in holographic technology [temple.edu] this could lead to input devices that a perfectly tailored to your body shape and preferences.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:08PM (#6609015)
    already managed to secure the patent

    But have they really been able to build one, or are they just patenting the idea with hopes someone else will and they they can sue and get rich? I see nothing on their website (other than very obviously mocked up fake pictures) or in the patent that says they really know how to do this.

    • I know companies have been known to do it... but... I thought part of the patent law process was that you had to have a working model, in order to be awarded a patent?

      (I'm not a patent lawyer, so I could be very wrong on this, and probably am)

      How does that work then? Could I go out and patent something, like say, "Faster-than-light spaceship drive" and sit back and wait for someone to develop it, and then get rich?

      That seems kinda messed up...

      Not that that is any reason it couldn't be real...
      • Re:Is that legit? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by clary (141424) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:17PM (#6609118)
        I thought part of the patent law process was that you had to have a working model, in order to be awarded a patent?
        According to Scientific American [sciam.com], the requirement for a working model was rescinded in 1800, except for perpetual motion machines. ;-)
      • Re:Is that legit? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by frovingslosh (582462)
        How does that work then? Could I go out and patent something, like say, "Faster-than-light spaceship drive" and sit back and wait for someone to develop it, and then get rich?

        Even worse, someone can wait until the faster than light spaceship is invented, then use it to travel back in time and then patent it!

        No, the patent office does not require working models any longer (not for quite some time). But I think that it could still be a good legal argument when defending against a patent that the paten

    • by saddino (183491) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:17PM (#6609122)
      I see nothing on their website (other than very obviously mocked up fake pictures) or in the patent that says they really know how to do this.

      Huh? Their patent [uspto.gov] appears to explain exactly how to do this (hint: see the "DETAILED DESCRIPTION" section).
      • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:33PM (#6609289)
        Huh? Their patent appears to explain exactly how to do this (hint: see the "DETAILED DESCRIPTION" section).

        Been there, read that. OK, maybe I just don't get it, but you tell me how The holographic image generator 200 actually manages to display a real time changing holographic image and then I'll accept that they have something. I just don't see anything in the patent or on their website that says they can really do this.

        • by saddino (183491) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:48PM (#6609404)
          tell me how The holographic image generator 200 actually manages to display a real time changing holographic image

          Good question, but that's not the issue. People seem to be believe this company has invented a new type of holographic technology -- they haven't. What they've done is invented a method to accept tactile-less input from a hologram, regardless of the holographic techonology. That's why the images are fakes.

          What this company needs now is a partner who has some good holographic technology in the works.
          • Great, it looks cool. But I won't be really impressed until they can do it *with* tactile input.

            I had a little think about that, and I wonder if an small targeted electric/static charge could be used to simulate a touch sensation, or perhaps find a way to manipulate water vapour (or something else?) in the air - eg flash freeze a very thin layer just before finger "contact". I'm just pulling this out of my ass, but there must be a way of doing it...

      • You're a useless little puke, aren't you? :) The hard part of this equation is not detecting the fingers interacting with the hologram. The hard part is generating a free-standing hologram without any physical component (like a collimator). They don't give a shred of information as to how they accomplish that heretofore impossible feat, and the obvious photoshop-generated nature of their pictures only throw the whole thing into greater question.
        • by Suidae (162977) on Monday August 04, 2003 @05:44PM (#6609896)
          Actually, if you read the article, it describes how they take a standard film based hologram and mount it on a piece of clear plastic and then put what amounts to an IR grid above it to detect finger placement.

          This is NOT real-time holography, or 'floating in mid-air with no box behind it' holography (as the images on the website show). There is one image of they guys laptop with the device attached.

          Its still a cool idea because it would be completely spill proof and have no mechanical wear. I can see something like this being popular in industrial applications where component wear or material spills could be an issue. And it should be reasonably cheap too, because its basicly a piece of plexiglass with some IR LEDs and sensors.
  • The pictures are too obviously Photoshopped, though, so it's not like this is how the implementation will actually look. I'm rather disappointed that such a snazzy technology couldn't include a few photos of the actual product in action.

  • slashdotted (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And so the CEO discovers the consequences of posting a 450k jpeg of himself.
  • by Faust7 (314817) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:10PM (#6609039) Homepage
    I can't be the only one that thinks holographic keyboards would be a great idea for public computers, just so we needn't worry about the disgusting pub-funk that seems to coat most public keyboards.
    • We used to live in caves. Your body is perfectly capable of seeing off any nastyness you pick up of public keyboards.

      To much cleanliness is just as unhealthy as too little. People that wash their hands all the time are generally ill far more often than those that feed their bodies immune system and let it develop in the way in which it is supposed to.
      • That's why I said "worry." Often, fact is one thing, and peace of mind is quite another.

        Millions of people would like thinking that they're being cleaner than before, even if there were no real danger to begin with.
      • There's a difference between bolstering your immune system and sticking your fingers into a big pile of dog-doo. There are plenty of things I'd rather not touch.
    • I can't be the only one that thinks holographic keyboards would be a great idea for public computers, just so we needn't worry about the disgusting pub-funk that seems to coat most public keyboards.

      Instead you'll have to worry about the disgusting grunge that literally "floats in the air". :)

  • This reminds me of the GR show, Earth:Final Conflict, where they fly spacecraft via interactive holographic display panels. I find this another funny way in which GR 'predicted' technology (although I am sure it is possible it appeared elsewhere earlier.. I just happened to catch it in EFC).
    • This was displayed quite well in the otherwise pretty much lame Johnny Mmemonic [imdb.com] (1995), two years before "Earth: Final Conflict" (1997).

      These are just the examples I've seen. I would suspect that this first appeared elsewhere even earlier than 1995.
      • Not only are there other references before EFC or Johnny Mnemonic, but Roddenberry was dead and cold for years before EFC went into production. It's based on a story outline of his, but he had no part in the special effects or most of the rest of it. The idea is so old that we might indeed find some reference to it in Raddenberry's works (I'm not a big fan and don't claim to know) but it certainly wasn't EFC.
    • The 1981 Harry Harrison" [harryharrison.com] book 'Starworld' [www.iol.ie] (book three of the 'To The Stars' trilogy) features a pendant computer with a holographic keyboard...

      I wonder if the Patent Office will accept SF as prior art..?
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:12PM (#6609060)
    The site is slashdotted already.

    Just imagine the spectacle of "404 error" numbers flashing and floating in mid-air.
  • Drivers, for example, would not have to take their eyes off the road to make a telephone call; they could punch a phone number into a transparent holographic keyboard projected in front of the windshield.

    Just what we need, more distractions for drivers.

    • Just what we need, more distractions for drivers.

      Less distractions. Right now you have to take your eyes off the road in order to see the keypad on your phone; this lets you keep your eyes on what's in front of you, the same way Heads-Up Displays in fighter jets do.
    • Drivers, for example, would not have to take their eyes off the road to make a telephone call; they could punch a phone number into a transparent holographic keyboard projected in front of the windshield.

      There's nothing new or patentable for car heads up displays. We've had heads up displays for years, in jet fighters and even some in high end commercially available cars. Maybe if they have a new, good way of sensing hand position that might be worthy of a patent, but there are a lot of different techno

  • by Dr. Shim (576902) <daniel&alienmelon,com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:15PM (#6609097) Homepage Journal
    Oh God. Just imagin if you want to go to Google.com but instead land at Gooogle.com... Or pop-ups... Or better yet... Japanese Killer Seizure Robots [seizurebots.com] floating floating in your face!
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:16PM (#6609109) Homepage Journal
    Anybody see the lack of tactile feedback as a problem? Holograms are great for unobtrusive displays like in aircraft like the story says, but once you start interacting with it, you would expect some type of feedback.

    Especially, if they plan to use this sort of thing for remote medical procedures. Imagine a doctor trying to perform a delicate surgery, without any sort of sensation of touch whatsoever.

    Maybe they'll come up with force feedback gloves or something.

    • Anybody see the lack of tactile feedback as a problem?

      Only if they fail to combine it with some sort of visual and/or audio feedback -- such as making the number you press blink white and go "bing!" when you touch it.
      • My thought exactly, with one qualification. This will be a great input device for menus and other selection of discrete options, but it will suck for any significant data entry.

        Tactile feedback is great for typing. Having your keys flash and beep each time you touch them, when typing or building up your input with multiple key presses, would get very irritating very quickly.
    • you would expect some type of feedback

      Indeed, but tactile is not the only possible form. Auditory feedback and visual feedback both work, though for touch-typing speeds, visual isn't acceptable...too slow.

      I've used a projection-keyboard system (non-holographic). It takes some getting used to but it's pretty amazing. Expect to see it in cell phones/PDAs within the next 2-3 years.
    • How about a combination of visual and audio feedback? Maybe if the pressed key changes color and/or flashes, and if there's some audio feedback of click .WAV playing at the same time. Granted, it'll be a looooooong time before anybody wants to rely on this tech for intensive data entry, but by then there'll probably better voice recognition anyway.

    • Maybe they'll come up with force feedback gloves or something.

      Man imagine that, a device that displays "keys" to be pressed that have feedback to them. So that there's actual sensation to pressing them.

      We'll call it "keyboard"!!

      Hehe just being sarcastic, but you get the idea. If you want to really put this to use find a way to change the dynamic of how we interact with computers in a meaningful way.
    • How about a combinatioon of visual and audio feedback? Make the holobutton change color and/or flash a little when "pressed," plus maybe play a .WAV file?

  • Yeah so... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Valiss (463641) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:17PM (#6609115) Homepage
    I have a doormat in front of my front door. It's a holodoormat, not a square drawn on the ground with chalk as someone of lesser intelligence might think. When you step on it it'll ring the door bell (after you hit the button). Anyone wanna buy one? Oh and I have 10MB images that you can download of it; and they aren't picture of my front door with a photoshopped square drawn where a doormat should be. I swear.

  • Wait a second (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zejackal (186296)
    Not much detail on the company's website. I'm interested in how they construct the image. If it is truely holographic, then it will require a medium for the image to be projected on. After all, a hologram is just an interference pattern. That is unless of course they plan on projecting directly onto the retina which I find hard to believe. So the image won't float in the air above the body of the person being operated on, it will float in front of some display case. It won't be visible from all angles
  • by Faust7 (314817)
    This'll take all the fun out of therapeutically banging the bejesus out of keys in frustration, unless Rimmer's "hard light" becomes a reality. Wouldn't you feel silly just slamming your fingers on air?
  • by KillerHamster (645942) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:20PM (#6609164) Homepage
    I can see some advantages to a keyboard you wouldn't have to touch, but I don't think I could use it. The feedback I get by pressing the keys is how I know that I hit the correct one and that I pressed down far enough. The feel of the keyboard is also how I know where to position my hands without looking. I would probably have to look at something like this while I type, which would slow me down drastically.
    • I can see some advantages to a keyboard you wouldn't have to touch, but I don't think I could use it.

      This technology is intended to produce keyboards and touchscreens where none can physically exist; it's not really supposed to replace physical keyboards, except when the "wow" factor is wanted.
  • If this ISN'T vaporware... which I think it is.

    Wouldn't you just need to project a series of these in a row to create a 'cube' space where you could then project 3D scenes?

  • ...from Xenosaga, Episode 1.

    The keys lit up and beeped when you "hit" them to provide some level of feedback. Pretty sweetly designed tech for an RPG cutscene.

    Oh, and gimme one of those KOD-MOS battle androids, too, as long as I'm dreaming.

  • I know this is kind of OT, but does anyone remember an episode of the classic TV show "That's Incredible" that showed a segment on 3-D television? Some inventors came up with a box that would put images in 3-D format without glasses. Not only that, but the effect persisted even if you closed one eye. I thought that it would be promising technology to use with interactive terminals such as this holography equipment where "buttons" are pressed by passing a finger through an IR field. Anyone have any info
  • problems (Score:3, Interesting)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:24PM (#6609205) Homepage
    With a holgraphic keyboard, you get the ability to customize on the fly, so you can adjust the keyboard position and size for the person.

    But...... it can't be used as a long term replacement for a keyboard. A regular keyboard provides lift to the fingers when releasing the keys, thus reducing the work on the fingers. This cuts down on RSIs.

    • With a holgraphic keyboard, you get the ability to customize on the fly,

      Only if the have dynamic hologram technology that would let them change the image on the fly, which I see no claim that they do. They might be claiming to have some sort of static hologram projector of 1 image (like a keyboatd with keys that can not move), but they are apparently not even showing this, which makes one wonder if they have anything at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:26PM (#6609222)
    For some reason, the image comes to mind, unbidden:

    Cowboy Neal, marching down the street, wearing display goggles. His special custom hologram GUI/keyboard hovers in front of him (he can see it in his goggles, no one else can).

    Trying to keep Slashdot afloat, he is furiously moderating the new posts: both fists are stabbing middle fingers all over the place right and left in front of him in mid-air as he walks down the street.

    To passersby, it looks like a cross between Mike Tyson, an NYC cabbie flipping the bird out the window, the the crazy homeless man who walks around talking to himself.
  • Sweeet... (Score:5, Funny)

    by MImeKillEr (445828) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:30PM (#6609259) Homepage Journal
    Now people won't have to strain their necks to see your pin number while shoulder surfing.

    [sarcasm]
    I can hardly wait!
    [/sarcasm]

  • by nherc (530930)
    Basically their patent says: Once someone figures out how to create a floating hologram, we figured out how to interacte with it by get this "TOUCHING" THE HOLOGRAM!

    Those are some smart bastards. The patent office really makes me sick.

    From the patent:

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

    The present invention relates generally to a holographic operator interface to electronic or electromechanical devices such as data processing units or computers and, more particularly, to a holographic operator interface whe

    • Geez, what a flamebaiter. Do you really think that inventing a device to detect where you've "touched" a hologram, regardless of where it's being projected, is easy? They'd have built them ten, fifteen years ago if it was as simple as you seem to think.

      Give the inventor credit, he's not patenting the idea of "touching" a hologram, he's patenting an actual implementation of it. Just because Slashdot loves mocking patents on business processes and software doesn't mean that all patents fall into those catego
      • Umm, they haven't even done THAT MUCH!

        Read the last line "Operator interaction is detected through electromagnetic or other means, thereby obviating the need for direct physical contact with a solid input object or surface."

        *cough*

        And, it is trival compared to creating a floating hologram.

  • Now if they can just make this sucker small enough, it could be a perfect input device for palm-sized or watch-sized devices. And if they can project a keyboard holographically, why not a screen? Pictures? Video? If they figured out how to do that in a small device, they deserve all the money they'd make off the patent.

  • by merlin_jim (302773) <James,McCracken&stratapult,com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:35PM (#6609299)
    Unfortunately they didn't do their homework :(

    From the website:

    HoloTouch, images of keypads can be any size, entirely independent of the size of the hardware.

    (emphasis my own)

    From the patent:

    When a hologram is illuminated by a reconstruction beam, it produces a real image (which appears to be between the plane of the hologram and the viewer) and a virtual image (which appears to be behind the plane of the hologram). [snip] Thus, it is preferred that the holographic image 207 be a real image.

    Quick review of holography: an extremely high resolution film takes pictures of the interference pattern generated when a coherent light beam strikes an object.

    When coherent light of a similar wavelength later shines through this film, the interference patterns cause it to be shined through in exactly the same manner as the original coherent light, up to about half the resolution of the film. Most holographic film is 3000 lines per inch, so the hologram has a "resolution" of about 1500 lines per inch.

    You see an image because the light reaching your eyes through the film is exactly as it would be had the object been in front of your eyes and illuminated by the original beam.

    The light reaching your eyes is coming through the film and then traveling in a straight line from the film to your eyes. You can only see such light if the holograph is directly behind it, because the path of the photons cannot change after it passes through the hologram (disregarding minor lensing effects due to the atmosphere, that is)

    What does this mean? Well if the hologram appears to be one half meter in front of you and the holographic film is one meter in front of you, and the holographic image appears to be 10 cm x 10 cm, then the minimum possible size for the holographic film is 20 cm x 20 cm.

    I don't call that entirely independent; as a matter of fact, it's a pretty simple relationship governed by a version of the inverse square law.

    Oh, an interesting fact about it is if you take a holographic film and cut it in half, because all the information about the image is stored throughout the film, you don't have half a hologram; you have a hologram of the entire object that is half the size of the original. Pretty cool stuff actually.
  • WHOAA! (Score:3, Funny)

    by mschoolbus (627182) <travisriley @ g m a i l.com> on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:36PM (#6609306)
    Is that the dude from Night Rider on this [holotouch.com] page?

    Knight Rider 2003! Now with Holographic panel!
  • patent shmatent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:39PM (#6609336)
    How and why in the "f" word did they get to patent this "invention?" I have a serious problem with this and here is what it is: The patent system exists in order that inventors can get a temporary monopoly on their invention as incentive to tell the world how it is done, so that humanity as a whole can benefit from it long after it is no longer a viable business for the inventor. By this definition, and yes, I know that the patent system is all screwed up, shouldn't inventors at least be required to demonstrate a working, functioning, real invention before they can secure a patent on it? It is obvious that this company did not actually get this friggen thing to work. By that logic, I should be able to patent about 100 ideas that I have every day, just because they would be cool if they ever worked, but won't, because I'm not actually going to build it, and nobody else will either, until the patent expires, because I am going to charge ridiculous fees for the use of my valuable intellectual property, which doesn't exist, not only because it is simply an idea that has no physical incarnation, but also because nobody has ever built the damn thing before.

    And if, by some fscked up logic, you are allowed to patent ideas that have no implementation, what's stopping all the movie producers who portrayed things like this in their movies from patenting this or any other idea seen in a futuristic movie. Hey, I got one... How 'bout patenting cyborgs? Hmmm... Good deal.

    • I just figured out how to stop judgement day, once and for all.

      Patent the idea of robots launching nukes at us, destroying us all. When Skynet starts killing us, sue 'em into oblivion for infringing on your IP.

      (OK maybe not once and for all, but for however long patents last)
  • I noticed the website was going a little slow for me. Decided to check it out -- I'm in Connecticut too, so I know the local providers -- and found that the site is hosted in Hong Kong. Seems a little fishy to me.

    host name : holotouch.com
    alias name: www.holotouch.com
    address : 202.85.141.141

    inetnum: 202.85.141.138 - 202.85.141.201
    netname: CHANMUIPING-HK
    descr: CHAN MUI PING
    country: HK
    admin-c: CM600-AP
    tech-c: DI16-AP
    mnt-by: MAINT-HK-IS
    changed: h
  • by MickLinux (579158) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:48PM (#6609408) Journal
    Okay, just assuming that this is a case in which they haven't invented anything, and it is actually a good idea [neither of which I feel able to judge], here is a workaround, NOW PUBLIC DOMAIN!

    Instead of making holographic keypads, make use of the double-parabolic-mirror optical illusion. You know the kind, shown in Edmund Scientific, where there are floating coins in the air. That is clearly not a hologram, but it would work just as well.

    If you feel at all inclined to make something, bookmark this reply!

    - MickLinux
  • by asmithmd1 (239950) on Monday August 04, 2003 @04:49PM (#6609422) Homepage Journal
    Here is a summary [alpern.org] of some people who have a real live working invention, not something they just thought up that might be possible one day
  • They're acquiring a patent, huh? Hm. Do TV shows that demonstrate this technology count as Prior Art? They hope not, because "Earth: Final Conflict" had this type of input device since season one.

    I personally disliked the show, but thought their UIs were right-on for a "futuristic" technology.

    Note: I also thought their "Globals" (handheld computers/communications devices) were well designed, too. I had guessed that they accurated predicted what our technological/design curve would end up being.
  • Well, the article says it is being done by the Airforce, on heads up displays, right? If this is so, then yes, it can be done. As to a copyright, well, the HUD thing is prior art, right?

    Just some thoughts
  • Killer App for PDA's (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jafac (1449) on Monday August 04, 2003 @05:12PM (#6609623) Homepage
    Right now, the main limiting factor in PDA adoption (IMHO) is size. They're too darned big, they don't fit nicely into my pocket. Perhaps something the size of a credit card would be well protected in my wallet - but then the screen and input devices are too small -

    Hence - this device would be the savior of the PDA industry.
  • by Shoten (260439) on Monday August 04, 2003 @05:24PM (#6609724)
    Then it would give new meaning to the term, "vaporware."
  • by JoeGee (85189) on Monday August 04, 2003 @06:11PM (#6610112)
    From their site:
    "To obtain high-resolution photos of HoloTouch in action, visit http://www.holotouch.biz/pressroom.htm."
    The images on that page aren't even cleverly disguised fakes. This is Pixelon [com.com] repackaged. Go to the LED site, http://www.3dtv.tv/ [3dtv.tv] referenced from their licensee's site. We get more creative imagery. Where's a real working product [actuality-systems.com], again?
  • by danila (69889) on Monday August 04, 2003 @08:03PM (#6610980) Homepage
    It seems that most people do not understand what the article is about (or they haven't read). Most of the comments here are either speculations about the terrible patent system or unreserved admiration of this super-technology. Here is the gist of it all.

    A usual film hologram (like those that have been around since 1940s [holophile.com]) is made and placed somewhere.

    Light shines on the hologram, producing a 3D image (you have seen it many times).

    The image of the keypad is seen in front of the hologram (no, it doesn't float in the air, you have to look at the hologram to see it).

    Infrared sensors (like those in the projection keyboards [slashdot.org]) detect the movement of your fingers.

    The "key-press" is sent to the computer.

    The inventors explain very well what this keyboard is. It is not the keyboard [agwright.com] from Minority Report. It is a keyboard to be used in places where you don't want to actually touch surfaces for one reason [google.com] or another [google.com].

    This is an interesting invention that might prove useful in some areas.

    There is nothing bad about the patent. Although inventors don't need to have a working model to get the patent (for 2 hundreds years already), this company has a working prototype [nytimes.com] (seen at the top of the article in NYT).

    The media overstates the importance of this technology a bit.

    The company has good PR manager.

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