MistForm fog display changes shape and supports interactivity

MistForm fog display changes shape and supports interactivity
A shape-changing fog screen breaks new ground as University of Sussex researchers in the UK add interactive capabilities.

The University of Sussex presented its invention, called MistForm, on May 10, at CHI 2017, a Denver, USA conference on human-computer interaction. 

The university outlined a product that allows users to reach through the display and interact with 2D and 3D objects that change shape and position. It is this fact that, according to the researchers, that makes MistForm stand out among fog screens such as the Leia Display System reported on by InAVate in 2014.

Because fog displays scatter light in an uneven way, the researches point out that you get differing amounts of light in different directions. The researchers say that by understanding the scattering patterns and controlling the shape, they can solve visibility and brightness problems that have plagued similar systems. 

The team also harnessed shape reconstruction and 3D projection algorithms to better support user interaction and remove image distortion.

In a statement on the university’s website, Dr Diego Martinez Plasencia, a lecturer in the Interact Lab at the University of Sussex’s School of Engineering and Informatics, said: “This has the potential to enable new forms of interaction and collaboration with computers, liberating users from fixed, static screens and opening up whole new interactive spaces.

“This latest study builds upon early concepts to provide a far more enjoyable and reliable user experience, by combining two exciting technologies to combat the issues of distortion and uneven brightness that we often see with fog screens.

“With other 3D display technologies your eyes need to focus on the display surface, even if you see an object ‘popping out’ of the screen. If you then try to touch it, your eyes will need to focus either on your hand or on the display, which soon can lead to eye fatigue (unless the 3D object and your hand are really close to the display surface). MistForm can adapt to these scenarios, moving the display surface so that both the object and the hand remain comfortably visible. With this kind of technique, we can provide comfortable direct hand 3D interaction in all the range your arms can reach.”