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Robotic arm paves way for interactive 3D experience

posted 18 Feb 2011, 09:03 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 18 Feb 2011, 09:05 ]

Computer scientists in Japan are developing a robotic arm that mimics human movement, a technology they believe will eventually replace the mouse and keyboard for a 3D interactive experience on computers of the future.

TSUKUBA CITY, IBARAKI PREFECTURE, JAPAN - Tsukuba University's robotic arm can do almost anything a human arm can do.

Two cameras stream real-time video of human estures to a pair of laptop computers. The laptops process the video signal and send corresponding instructions to the robotic arm so when the human reaches to grab

an object, so does the robot.

The arm has a future in remote robotics, but its developers say the underlying technology has far more exciting implications for human interaction with computers of the future. University of Tsukuba Professor Kiyoshi Hoshino says that future will be in three dimensions.


"If your output medium is two-dimensional, a touchpanel is a very effective way of inputting information. However, displays will likely soon become 3D. When your display dimensions becomes 3D, using a keyboard or mouse isn't very effective. What will be effective instead, is gestures."

Hoshino says a three dimensional interface will give users the ability to build objects in three dimensions as though they were holding them in their hands. He says that day is fast approaching.


"We will have a 3D desktop manager by next March, as we've made a lot of progress. So while Apple, Microsft and Google are the current big three companies in the information device field, I'm certain we'll be able to make quite a mark."

And that he says, is no empty gesture.

Rob Muir, Reuters.