A&M Students Create ZeroTouch Technology

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Imagine interacting with your computer by simply pointing your finger.

It's called ZeroTouch technology and it isn't a thing of the future. It's happening now at Texas A&M University.

Texas A&M graduate student Jon Moeller is the driving force behind the incredible touchless technology.

"The undergraduate project was kind of a bust, but I found that the idea was really cool so I continued to develop it," said Moeller.

With the help of Associate Professor Andruid Kerne and fellow graduate student Bill Hamilton, Moeller has co-designed the ZeroTouch sensor at the Interface Ecology Lab.

"The applications are pretty limitless. What we've developed is a technique that we can use to sense in any modality or any configuration," said Moeller.

The ZeroTouch gives bigger monitors the ability to be like a touchscreen monitor. Only it's not sensing the pressure of your fingers, it's sensing the positioning of them.

"It's really a matter of mouse emulation. When you point to the screen the mouse cursor follows your finger," said Moeller.

To get a real sense of the technology, the folks at the IEL have suspended a Zero touch in the air that allows you to "paint" a picture on a monitor without even needed a brush.

And yes, there is an app for that. A simple "paint" palette that can be manipulated with an iPhone.

"Flexibility and that ease of integration with different forms of display and other input devices is one of the things that makes ZeroTouch unique," said Kerne.

The technology is similar to interfaces seen in futuristic movies like Iron Man and Minority Report.

"That's by in large the largest comment that we get from everyone that sees it. Oh it's like Minority Report, that's so cool," said Moeller.

"We're not trying to emulate Minority Report per say but certainly this technology enables that kind of interaction," said Kerne.

And you may be able to interact with your computer sooner than you think.

"We're looking to produce these things within the next year and we're hoping to see them out in the real world pretty soon," Moeller.

The ZeroTouch sensor will start making its way into museums for interactive displays in the near future and even TEEX will get its own version of the ZeroTouch for disaster preparedness and response.