07.08.13

Interaction meets immersion in water display

Researchers at Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications have made a splash after transforming a tub of water into an interactive, immersive entertainment display. The team from the Koike Laboratory, who are examining the construction of natural user interfaces, combined a projector, a Kinect camera, a waterproof speaker, a square tank of water and a PC to create the Aqua Top Display prototype.

Projection onto the surface of the water is made possible by adding milky bath salt to the water to turn it white, while IR light is reflected from the Kinect which detects finger and hand touches.

The developers created a desktop-style interactive program where users can drag and delete photos as well as change their size using their fingers underneath the surface of the water. The user can also access photos and video by scooping at the water where an icon is displayed.

They also created an interactive game. This sees jellyfish on the surface as the enemy which can be destroyed by the user’s fingers and hands rising from beneath the water. For added visual effects in gaming, the waterproof speaker fitted at the bottom of the tank starts to produce sound at 50HZ making the water shoot upwards.

A spokesperson from the lab said: “Our system uses a depth camera to detect input on and over the water surface to allow for interactions such as protruding fingers out from under the water surface and scooping up the water with both hands.
“These type of interactions are not normally possible with current impenetrable rigid surfaces. For example, by floating one’s limbs on the water surface, it is also possible to fuse one’s body with the displayed objects for further augmented interaction by ’becoming one ’with the screen.”

The researchers cited possible applications for the technology as ranging from small-scale entertainment in the household bath to large leisure installations in a swimming pool or theme park.