Augmented reality company Metaio has announced today that it is working on a system called ‘Thermal Touch’ which allows people using Google Glass-like wearable technology to turn any surface around them info a usable interface.

The company said that by combining an infrared image with a regular camera (currently achieved in the prototype by running them in tandem on a tablet), it could track the heat signature left when someone touches a surface. Combine this with digitally overlaid augmented reality and computer vision, and you have an all-new touch interface, anywhere you like.

metaio thermaltouch chess 730x410 Metaio is combining infrared and augmented reality technology to turn any surface into a touchscreen

“Imagine pushing directions to your device simply by touching a static map in a shopping mall, building complex or airport; children could bring play to new levels and launch digital content directly from their toys; design professionals could visualize their digital and 3-D creations on their real world counterparts; and service technicians could pull up information just by touching an object in real life,” the company said.

metaio thermaltouch weblink 730x410 Metaio is combining infrared and augmented reality technology to turn any surface into a touchscreen

While it’s obviously not ready for the prime time just yet, Metaio says it’s working on the project to show off some of the possibilities of heads-up displays and to try and remedy some of the growing pains of navigating interfaces found on the current generation of wearable products.

“The best graphic user interface (GUI) for wearable headsets has yet to be determined – device makers have so far experimented with voice navigation, companion devices and even projection, but in order for consumers to adopt new technology on a massive level it needs to be convenient and, above all, accessible in countless scenarios,” Metaio said.

Sadly, Metaio says that Thermal Touch “could be five years away from reality” and up to 10 years before thermal sensors are commonplace in our devices. Nonetheless, some of the possibilities presented in the video below are pretty exciting.

Featured Image Credit – Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images