London: Just a slide of your foot on the floor could soon bring your hi-fi system to life, all thanks to the newly developed "touch floor" by researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam, Germany.Patrick Baudisch and colleagues have developed a prototype, called Multi-toe, which is made up of a 0.5-millimetre-thick sheet of silicone lying on an 8-millimetre-thick layer of clear acrylic, both of which sit on a thick glass sheet to provide rigidity.
Light beams shone into the acrylic bounce around inside until pressure from a foot, could allow them to escape.
A camera below captures the light and registers an image of whatever has pressed down on the floor.
Other forms of this technique, known as frustrated total internal reflection (FTIR), are already in use in some touchscreens.
However, Baudisch``s version expands the idea by allowing the identification of individual users from the pattern on the tread of their shoes.
"What is also cool is that FTIR allows for pressure sensing. The harder you press the silicone against the acrylic, the more light comes out," New Scientist quoted Baudisch as saying.
Baudisch has already adapted Multi-toe for the video game Unreal Tournament, with the screen projected on the ground and players able to move a character by leaning forwards, backwards and from side to side.
They can shoot by tapping their toes.
Tests have also shown users can use their feet to press keys measuring around 5 by 6 centimetres on a virtual keyboard.
Multi-toe was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta, Georgia.
First Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010, 18:01