A new proposal from Microsoft can transform the way you interact with your devices, thanks to the mixed reality. Called MRTouch, it essentially allows HoloLens owners to create a virtual touch screen, which is capable of displaying and managing content on any flat surface.
Microsoft Research researchers have developed a way to give HoloLens users a virtual touch screen, through a system called MRTouch. With this option, the owners of the Microsoft mixed reality glasses will have an additional way to interact while using HoloLens, which complements the gestures, movements and voice to control them.
A Microsoft Research video demonstrates these functions with the use of the MRTouch prototype. As you can see, all you have to do is use your fingers and slide them on a flat surface, to create a virtual touch screen. You can do it on almost any surface, such as walls or tables. You can interact with the virtual screen using multi-touch gestures, similar to the way you use a tablet.
As explained, one of the most useful functions of MRTouch and HoloLens is the ability to start applications or programs that depend on touch inputs, such as a browser, photographs or even 3D projects.
In the photo application, for example, Microsoft showed that you can scroll (pan) and zoom in with your fingers, just as you would in the Windows 10 photo application on your tablet or on your laptop with touch capability . Referring to the use of the browser, accessing it from MRTouch will allow you to use a mixed reality device instead of your computer, Microsoft said.
MRTouch even seems to be ahead of traditional touch screens if you need to render realistic 3D content. In that case, the touch panel can be combined with gestures in the air, to perform specific interactions in three-dimensional space.
The technology works by using the short depth camera on the HoloLens glasses for finger tracking. A reflectivity map is captured at 25 frames per second, and the data is fed to the tracking engine. The Microsoft test tested the accuracy of the device, and the results show that touch is detected 97.5 percent of the time, with an average distance error of 5.4 mm. According to Microsoft, the MRTouch accuracy rate is very competitive with the capacitive touch screens that are used today in many modern laptops, tablets, and smart phones.
It is certainly a cutting-edge technology that many will surely want to take advantage of. However, Microsoft Research has not announced plans to bring MRTouch to the market, or allow other developers to make use of multi-touch interactions. If that changes, we will keep you informed.