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Prototype gaming screen can tell who's touching it

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Using electrodes or a specially-designed chair, a tabletop panel prototype can tell which of four people is touching it.

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Table-style multitouch panels aren't new, but a prototype table designed for gaming can tell which of four people is touching it. The panel, seen at the 2012 International Nanotechnology Exhibition & Conference by Tech-On, could be used for arcade table games or betting, says its creator Gunze Ltd. Unlike a regular touchscreen, the panel is surrounded by a bezel containing four colored electrodes. Just putting a finger on the panel does nothing, but touching an electrode with one hand and the screen with the other creates a closed circuit that allows the panel to pair the two touches. The prototype also included a chair that players could sit in to close the circuit, removing the need to touch the electrode.

Once a connection is established, different behaviors can be assigned — in this case, users could touch an electrode and then create an icon of the same color on the screen. In casino gaming, this could be used, as Gunze has suggested, to tell "who bets what." We could also see tabletop game applications, like recognizing different units in a real-time strategy game, or non-gaming uses, like letting several users annotate an image or document together. No commercial partners have signed on yet, but the company says it is looking for customers.