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Brief Published: 2 Jun 2014

Metaio’s Thermal Touchscreen

Metaio Thermal Touch technology

German augmented reality firm Metaio has revealed it is working on a new "thermal touch" technology, which combines thermal imaging with augmented reality (AR).

The technology uses an infrared camera and standard camera, running in tandem, to track the heat signature left by a user when touching a surface. Metaio's AR software is then layered on top to create a 3D, responsive experience.

By developing the system, Metaio aims to provide a better, more natural interface for smart glasses. "Everyone is talking about wearable computing eyewear like Google Glass, but no-one is talking about the best way to actually use those devices," Metaio's chief technology officer Peter Meier said in a statement. "We need a natural, convenient interface to navigate the technology of tomorrow, and that's why we developed Thermal Touch."

While the technology is still in its infancy – Metaio estimates that it will be five to 10 years before infrared cameras are integrated into wearable technology – the research opens up exciting possibilities for transforming our interactions with the real world. Metaio suggests the tech could be used to create interactive catalogues, virtual chess games and real-time maps.

Augmented reality is becoming more sophisticated every day, inspiring a range of innovative products and engaging brand experiences. Recent examples include British automaker Land Rover's invisible bonnet and Swiss design studio Apelab's spatial storytelling experience. For more, see our report from the Augmented Reality Summit.