Late yesterday we posted a report titled "Samsung Attempting to Leap Frog Apple with Future Holographic Device with Specialized Display." Little did we know that within hours of that report we would learn that Apple had just acquired augmented reality pioneer Metaio GmbH (Munich, Germany) for an undisclosed amount of money. So the race is on for next generation devices taking advantage of Augmented Reality and Hologram technologies. One of Metaio's great inventions that Apple has acquired relates to "Thermal Touch" which is a vision of the near future for wearable computing user interfaces. By fusing information from an infrared and standard camera, nearly any surface can be transformed into a touch screen.
The technology is intended for use with head-mounted displays such as Google Glass and makes use of the fact that touching an object heats it up slightly and provides a thermal signature. When combined with overlaid information in the display this could allow everyday objects to become controls or for controls to be overlaid on surfaces.
Metaio CTO Peter Meier states that "Everyone is talking about wearable computing eyewear like Google Glass, but no one is talking about the best way to actually use those devices. We need natural, convenient interface to navigate the technology of tomorrow, and that's why we developed 'Thermal Touch'."
Consisting of an infrared and standard camera working in tandem and running on a tablet PC, the prototype registers the heat signature left by a person's finger when touching a surface. Metaio's AR software then supplements the experience with AR and computer vision to allow the user to interact with digital content in all-new tactile way.
The Metaio website now states that "Metaio products and subscriptions are no longer available for purchase. Downloads of previous purchases will be available until December 15th, 2015, and active cloud subscriptions will be continued until expiration. Email support will continue until June 30th, 2015."
An interesting side note: Earlier this week we reported that TSMC was going to deliver 7nm processors in 2017. Their first customer for the new processors is going to be Xilinx. Interestingly Xilinx worked with Metaio in an alliance program. This is what Xilinx says about Metaio:
"Metaio is the worldwide leader in Augmented Reality software, research and technology. With over 10 years of experience in Augmented Reality and Computer Vision, Metaio serves over 100,000 developers with over 1,000 published apps. In total, Metaio's AR software reaches over 30 Million consumers around the world. Founded in 2003, Metaio began by offering AR to the industrial and automotive sectors for product design and factory planning. 11 years later, the company offers the most versatile and robust mobile development platform while continuing to create customized AR solutions to support brands all over the world."
To view some of the patent applications that Metaio currently has on record, check out this list noted from the U.S. Patent Office.