Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, June 05, 2009

When the abyss looks into you - The Display That Watches You

Technology Review - Friday, June 5, 2009 by Kate Greene

Researchers in Germany have created a display that doubles as a camera.

Two-way display: This image shows a detailed layout of the Fraunhofer display chip, which combines photodetectors with an organic light-emitting diode display. Credit: Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems

For decades, engineers have envisioned wearable displays for pilots, surgeons, and mechanics. But so far, a compact wearable display that's easy to interact with has proved elusive.

"This is of great interest for all kinds of applications where your hands are needed for something else, like a pilot flying an aircraft or a surgeon wanting to access vital parameters while performing a surgery."

Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) have now developed a screen technology that could help make wearable displays more compact and simpler to use. By interlacing photodetector cells--similar to those used to capture light in a camera--with display pixels, the researchers have built a system that can display a moving image while also detecting movement directly in front of it. Tracking a person's eye movements while she looks at the screen could allow for eye-tracking control: instead of using hand controls or another form of input, a user could flip through menu options on a screen by looking at the right part of the screen. The researchers envisage eventually integrating the screen with an augmented-reality system.

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