Japanese boffins develop 3D touchscreen technology -

A Japanese research team has said that it has developed the world's first touchscreen 3D television system.

Scientists claim that the new technology will let users touch, pinch or poke images floating in front of them.

Norio Nakamura, senior scientist with the research team at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, told AFP: "It is the first time that you can feel images in the air.

"You can have the sense of touch like poking a rubber ball or stretching a sticky rice cake" when manipulating images, he added.

The developers said that the way that the technology works is by changing the shape of three-dimensional images in response to "touches", aided by cameras that monitor how the fingers move.

It is hoped that this new development will be used in a range of ways including to help in surgery. Gamers may also benefit with the developers suggesting that the technology could allow players to experience holding weapons or sport equipment.

And the most ambitious plans? "This technology could create a virtual museum where visitors, including vision-impaired people, can put their hands on valuable sculptures that are usually untouchable," Nakamura said.