New Fujitsu tech turns paper into touchscreen

Fujitsu Laboratories has developed a technology that can overlay an interactive touchscreen over real-world objects, such as paper. The Fingerlink Interaction System reads finger motions and using webcam, projection and computer hardware and allows you to capture the information in front of you - importing the visual information you designate as data.

For example, if you want to store a picture printed on a sheet of paper or in a magazine, all you have to do is press in one corner with the tip of a finger, drag to the other corner and lift. As the camera can recognise height, it will act different when your hand is closer or further away from the surface of the object you are touching.

"We think paper and many other objects could be manipulated by touching them, as with a touchscreen," said Fujitsu. "This system doesn't use any special hardware; it consists of just a device like an ordinary webcam, plus a commercial projector. Its capabilities are achieved by image processing technology."

The system also recognises gestures for situations that don't require touch, such as the manipulation of 3D computer animated objects.

Consumer applications for the Fingerlink Interaction System are still to be determined, but Fujitsu has several ideas already. "We think this system could be used to show detailed information at a travel agent's counter, or when you need to fill in forms at City Hall," the company said as a couple of examples.

The fully commercial version of the technology will be ready for release in 2014.

Fujitsu Labs has also been working on other concept and future tech designs, such as the GPS walking stick and gesture keyboard for tablets Pocket-lint saw at Mobile World Congress in February.