Holy crap, somebody invented something that makes Google Glass seem cool. The augmented reality wizards at Metaio just showed off their Thermal Touch technology, a new kind of user interface that basically turns the whole world into a touchscreen. It looks pretty futuristic.

The idea itself is surprisingly simple. Whenever you touch something, you leave behind a heat signature that can be picked up by an infrared camera. Thermal Touch technology registers that heat signature and treats it, well, kind of like a click. So you could be reading a magazine, see a picture of an item you like, touch it, and go straight to a web page where you can buy it.


Thermal Touch is honestly not that different than your smartphone screen. Whereas that technology uses capacitive sensors to detect the electricity in your finger, Thermal Touch uses heat. But the kicker is, there's no edge to this screen. The entire world is suddenly clickable and interactive. It makes the most sense to combine this sort of capability with something like Google Glass, though Glass would need a better camera.

There's another kicker, too. Metaio built the prototype by simply combining existing technology and writing some new software. The company says that Thermal Touch could be on the market within five years, though it's unclear if they'll actually take it that far. Either way, it's good to see augmented reality get a little more real—and useful. [GigaOm]