Next stage for 3D TV: Force feedback

If you thought that autostereoscopic 3D displays were the next big thing, think again. That's so early-2010. And touchscreen 3D? Pah! Have you been living in a cave for the last few weeks, Granddad?

Nope, for one Japanese manufacturer, both of those technologies are ancient news. NTT Docomo's 3D display, which was shown at this year's Ceatec in Tokyo, is not only viewable without glasses, and can be interacted with by touch, it also touches you back.

Using live video of an animated chameleon, trade visitors were invited to press the screen with a pen. As it neared the animal, he flicked out his tongue to repel it, and the pen was, indeed, forced away from the screen.

The system uses a magnetic field, generated by a coil set clipped to the back of the display, and the pen tip is also magnetised. When a camera, which is constantly scanning the surface of the screen, sees the pen enter, it tells a computer to change the properties of the magnetic force, thus feeding back to the user.

It's all very clever, but unlikely to be commercialised until NTT Docomo can find a use for such a technology. Also, at present, it will only work on a tiny screen, like the 2.57-inch one used in this instance:

"We are developing the technology as one of several candidates for a communication technology that uses richer contents", a company spokesperson stated. "But we are still in the phase of examining and researching the needs for and applications of the technology".

A great idea or just plain bonkers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

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