Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The I-Zone Rocks!

This year, SID DisplayWeek has added a refreshing new feature to the Exhibit Hall: the I-Zone. This is a special section that gives “researchers space to demonstrate their prototypes or other hardware demo units for 2 days free of charge.” The section was made possible through the sponsorship of E-Ink.

With fewer than two dozen tables, the I-Zone is a hotbed of innovation and enthusiasm. From clothing with embedded fiber optics that light up segmented displays to lenses made of liquid crystals that can be programmed to change their focus, there are many technology demonstrations that are likely to make you look twice.

One of my favorites was a demonstration by Citizen Holdings. A device that looked sort of like a table-top basketball backboard had a jumble of hardware where the net should have been. This device turned out to be a robotic combination of camera and projector. When you held out your hand, the camera would find it and the projector would display a control icon on the palm of your hand. Press the icon, and it would control the computer. For example, if a movie was playing on the attached computer, you could make it pause or play by touching the icon in your hand. Instead of projecting onto your hand, it could also project onto the table. You could tap the table twice to “summon” the control icons. They would be projected close to where you tapped.

This could be the precursor to a rich new user interface for television. Instead of having to make broad gestures, speak repetitive commands, or deal with a complex remote, this system could let you control the television system through a series of context-sensitive control displays. And if two or more people are watching, you can easily tell who has the attention of the controller by seeing where the icons are projected.

This clever demonstration was just one of many fascinating projects on display at the I-Zone.--Alfred Poor, HDTV

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