See-through computer allows users
to "grab" digital content


SpaceTop 3D computer by Jinha Lee

News: a transparent computer that allows users to reach "inside" the screen and manipulate content with their hands was unveiled at the TED conference in Los Angeles last week.

Introducing the SpaceTop 3D desktop computer at the TED conference, interaction researcher Jinha Lee explained that enabling humans to physically interact with machines could make computing more intuitive.

"The gap between what the designer thinks and what the computer can do is huge. If you can put your hands inside the computer and handle digital content you can express ideas more completely," he told the BBC.

Working in collaboration with Microsoft and its Kinect technology, Lee developed a system that combines a transparent LCD display with built-in cameras that track gestures and eye movements.

SpaceTop 3D computer by Jinha Lee

Users place their hands behind the screen to scroll or type just as they would with a normal computer, but they can also raise their hands up to grab and manipulate the virtual 3D elements.

One camera is used to track fingers, recognising gestures like pinching and dragging, while the other camera faces the user and tracks the position of their head to display perspective-corrected 3D graphics.

SpaceTop 3D computer by Jinha Lee

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lee is currently carrying out his compulsory military service in South Korea at electronics firm Samsung, where he is developing television interfaces.

Last month Google released a movie preview of what it would be like to wear its voice-controlled Google Glass headset, while earlier this year we reported on an augmented reality iPad app that allows architects to look inside static architectural models – see all technology news.

Images and movie are by Jinha Lee.

  • Internet User

    Can't wait to use this with my porn collection.

  • Peder

    Looks cool, but could possibly need to be run past a ergonomics expert. The thought of handling a day’s CAD work with my hands waving in the air at arm’s length gives me back and shoulder ache already!

  • beatrice

    This is easily much better than the old virtual reality glasses and glove combo.

    • dare

      I think if it’s refined/reinvented, virtual reality glass is also great. Either the VR glass design or the one in the article has its own trade-offs. On an ergonomic standpoint, your hand can frequently bump the see-through screen’s frame, which is potentially annoying.

  • I can envision flight controllers as the first to test this sort of technology.

  • I’m sure designers will have good uses for this technology once it’s released commercially.

  • Guest

    I wouldn’t be surprised if I will read soon that Apple and Steve Jobs invented and already patented it. Anyway – it can’t get popular any other way. Remember touch screens? Nobody want to use them until Apple came with iPhones. Remember tablets? The same.

    Nowadays it’s nothing difficult to invent stuff, the genius is to make people to buy it.