"Pretty interesting idea! Is it possible to recognize the object without even touching also?"
@t.alex: Yes, I have seen touch technologies where the surface of the screen does not need to be touched. Instead, the sensor is able to detect the finger as soon as it moves close to it. However, when you're talking about wearable technologies, that doesn't apply. The object has to be part of the natural environment and hence needs to be "touched" like any other normal daily-life object.
@Daniel: Interesting invention I must say. I think this will be particularly useful in designing touch-based surfaces that are non-flat. Currently, the touch screens are only available in a flat format and that puts up a big restriction. This technology may easily be used in designing touch-based non-flat surfaces like a mug or a pen.
I think that infrared imaging has this huge limitation of false identification, background noise, saturation, delta-Temperature sensitivity etc. But as already in use, such camera can be a good ad on when most of the other sensory inputs fail. I think that there are some research groups working on superconductor detectors which can detect a single phonon so basically IR cameras with super high sensitivity. These devices will sure push the applications to new boundaries.
Tirlapur, that's a very good question. Our current prototype assumes that the temperature of the surface is lower than the temperature of the fingertip.
Conceptually, however, it's only important that there is a difference in temperature between the finger and the surface -- it doesn't really matter which one is warmer than the other. In fact there are also some people whose fingertips are cold, and they leave a cold trace after touching surfaces at room temperature (~25 degrees Celsius).
We also have constraints on the shape and physical size of residual heat to be classified as resulting from a touch by a fingertip. But of course false positive detections still occur at this early prototype stage. More details on the underlying algorithm can also be found in our research paper, which will appear in the proceedings of the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR) in September.
We are working hard on making our approach deal with as many situations as possible in the future.
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