Monday, 22 Nov, 2010 Technology
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Nokia Team Builds Ice Touchscreen

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A group of specialists at Nokia in Finland decided to develop the world's first ice touchscreen. It is worth mentioning that there's a tradition in Finland to make various ice sculptures throughout the long cold winter. This tradition inspired Antti Virolainen and his team members to create the device.

"We decided to see if we could make an ice sculpture that was interactive," said Virolainen.

A 25-centimeter-thick river ice, weighting 1 ton, was delivered by a firm in nearby Oulu. Then, using a chainsaw, the piece was cut into 50-centimeter-square parts. The team used these parts to build a 2m x 1.5m ice wall. Then the wall was blasted with a heat gun to make a smooth surface.

To make the wall interactive the Nokia team used a digital projection technology. The ice touchscreen makes use of rear-diffused illumination (RDI). It is worth mentioning that this technique was for the first time used in Microsoft Surface, a table-based interactive touchscreen presented by the software giant in 2008.

At the back of the ice touchscreen the team installed a near-infrared light source along with a series of near-infrared cameras that are focused on the front surface, reports NewScientist.

When a person places their hand on the ice, it reflects the light towards the infrared cameras. Each camera collects a signal which allows a computer (connected to a projector) to locate the hand position, size and motion. The computer used the gathered information to project images beneath the hand.

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