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Nokia N8 Plug and Touch concept turns your TV into a touchscreen

Nokia has showed off an N8 being used to make a TV touchscreen, the first step in new technology that may eventually realise Iron Man-style touch interfaces we use in the air.

Nokia is developing camera software which could turn any old TV into a touchscreen, and may eventually lead to Iron Man-style air-touch technology for everyone -- not just troubled billionaire geniuses.

Plug and Touch is deceptively simple: point the N8 smart phone's camera at a HDTV, and connect to the same TV using an HDMI cable. The TV then becomes an extension of the phone -- a giant touchscreen. Marshall Chang, from Nokia Research in Beijing, showed off the tech at last week's Nokia World in a video on the Nokia blog.

When Chang made gestures close in front of the TV (you don't have to touch, but it helps) the N8 picked it up and responded to the action. It only needed the download of a 34K application and to be fixed in a clamp, although eventually it might just need to face the screen. Currently the technology only recognises the click and vertical scrolling controls and suffers some lag.

"I assume you've seen Iron Man," Chang said. "You know in his lab we've seen 3D things and he's interacting in the air? One day I'd love to see it, where we have a device that pops up a user interface in the air that we can interact with.

"In order to do that we have to figure out how to interact with that, how this device can track the gestures that we are doing. This is our first step to getting to that point."

Last week we saw Nokia's work on a Star Trek communicator phone, further demonstrating that the Finnish company is still beavering away behind the scenes on research, despite its much publicised problems in the high-end smart phone market.

With the release of the N8, C6-O1, C7 and E7, Nokia is making a comeback of sorts, but what the company really needs is a game changer. With the N9 due before Christmas and possibly running the new mobile OS MeeGo, could it have one?

Image credit: The Nokia Blog