Author(s): Raghu Gopal
This week, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, demonstrated a file transfer technique named CapCam. The method enables smartphones and other mobile devices to establish quick wireless connections with a host device via touchscreen, by pressing a device to the screen's surface. The host can track the mobile device as it moves across the surface by using its camera to decipher colour patterns.
CapCam is an alternative to manual pairing technologies like Bluetooth and would not need specific hardware, such as NFC, installed on a device. Researchers designed the pairing process to be simple. Users hold a mobile device against the host's touchscreen, which is equipped with CapCam's software to sense the shape and location of the mobile device. The host begins flashing a unique colour pattern on the screen. The mobile device, also running CapCam software, uses its camera to read the colour signals being displayed.
Applications for the technology could evolve as large touchscreens become ubiquitous in public places like malls, where visitors could download information from a map or at a bus stop, where users could copy a bus schedule to their smartphones by just tapping the phone.
The developers of CapCam are addressing the rather cumbersome way of sharing and transferring files using standard hardware. Through smart algorithms, the technique makes it considerably easier for smartphone users to quickly collect information and enable new ways for retailers to share marketing materials using the flexibility of touch displays.
Although the Capcam technique is still in the lab phase, there's a touch of the future on display here.