Bi-directional OLEDs capable not only of displaying graphics but of working as a camera have been upgraded to support measuring distance and inclination, and could well pave the way for a new type of touchscreen technology recognizing hovering fingertips and 3D gestures. The handiwork of the Fraunhofer IPMS, the new panels build on previous iterations tipped for use in head-up displays, and support up to VGA resolution in their latest form.
"That makes them predestined not only for augmented reality via interactive data eye glasses but also for applications in the optical inspection" Fraunhofer researcher Uwe Vogel suggests. The actual technical side gets pretty complex, however, even when boiled down by the project's engineers. "By inverse-confocal imaging approach a point-source sensor with purely electronic scanning allows extremely compact sensor modules," Constanze Großmann explains.
Nonetheless, the potential for the OLED panels is unmistakable. "This opens completely new opportunities for machine integration" Großmann continues. Back in July, Fraunhofer announced a partnership to "produce a key component that integrates both the display and optics into a monolithic display engine, with a goal of finally enabling sunglass styled video glasses."
However, as the panels get larger, the proximity measuring technology could potentially see PMPs, smartphones and tablets gain advanced hover-recognition. By tracking the distance of a finger from the display, such gadgets could respond to 3D gestures and swipes, as well as presumably measuring how fast your fingertip approached the touchscreen.
Previous bi-directional OLED demo: