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A transparent Mac within the decade? Maybe

I’m not sure we’ll ever see this on a Mac, but Microsoft and Jinha Lee, a MIT graduate working at Samsung on TV interfaces, developed a prototype of a “transparent” computer that lets you reach “inside” and “touch” digital content. 

Lee told the BBC that allowing folks to interact with machines in the same way they do with solid objects could make computing much more intuitive. In fact, he thinks transparent computers will come into general use within a decade.

The SpaceTop 3D system consists of a transparent LED display with built-in cameras that track the user’s gestures and eye movements. It consists of a clear-glass display that allows input using voice control, touchless motions and eye-tracking.

You place your hands behind the screen to scroll or type just as you would with a regular computer. However, you can also raise your hands up to grab and manipulate the virtual 3D elements.

One camera is used to track fingers, recognizing gestures like pinching and dragging. A second camera faces the user and tracks the position of their head to display perspective-corrected 3D graphics.

Among other things, you’ll be able to check your e-mail from a clear glass structure, just by waving your hand or post pictures on Facebook using a voice command. Or use your eyes to motion for the computer to turn off.

The idea of a transparent Mac isn’t new. In 2006 MacFormat ran a “Macs of Tomorrow” section with an illustration by 3D artist Adam Benton that’s one of the coolest mock-ups I’ve ever seen. Pictured, it’s a full wireless Mac with a LCD screen that’s transparent when it’s not being used. The transparent keyboard also sports light sensitive illuminated keys. And, I’m sure the display is touch sensitive.

As I said, I’m not sure we’ll ever see a transparent Apple desktop (or laptop). However, if Apple wanted to really make the Mac stand out from the crowd, that would be one way to do it.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.