More Interactions with Levitating Objects


In our last blog post, almost a year ago, we described our vision of interactive displays created using levitating objects. We also showcased our Point-and-Shake technique for selecting levitating objects [1], our first step towards an interactive display. Selection is a fundamental interaction because it needs to happen before more complicated interactions. For example, selection is necessary to specify the target for manipulations like scaling or rotating content.

Since that post, we have been developing new ways of interacting with levitating objects. Here, we share our latest efforts towards fully interactive levitating object displays and show off our latest techniques for interacting with levitating content.

Object Translation

One of the simplest operations to apply to a levitating object is translation (i.e., moving it). As an extension to our mid-air selection gestures, we developed a translation mechanism based on fingertip movement [2]. We call this LeviCursor. With this technique, a person can move a levitating object by moving their finger through the air. As their finger moves, the object follows the same trajectory, smoothly following the fingertip motion with low latency. The following video shows several examples of this.


Our LeviCursor technique can be an important building block for new interactive experiences. For example, our Levitating Pong game used a similar method for controlling the player. The following video shows an example of gameplay; as the player moves their finger up and down in mid-air, the paddle on the right follows their movements.


Object Rotation and Scaling

Our selection and translation interaction techniques can be used to target and manipulate a single levitating object. There are more complex operations that can be applied to multiple levitating objects, including rotation and scaling. We have also developed new techniques for directly manipulating composite levitating objects. The following video shows an example of mid-air gestures being used to rotate and scale a levitating cube. In this case, we created a cube using levitating beads placed at each of its eight corners.


These interactions showcase the state-of-the-art in levitation. Not only are we able to levitate and move multiple objects in mid-air, we are able to do so smoothly and in real-time, enabling the creation of novel interaction techniques with immediate feedback.


Written by Dr Euan Freeman



[1]  Point-and-Shake: Selecting from Levitating Object Displays - Euan Freeman, Julie Williamson, Sriram Subramanian ,and Stephen Brewster - CHI 2018 - pdf

[2] LeviCursor: Dexterous Interaction with a Levitating Object - Bachynskyi, Myroslav, Viktorija Paneva, and Jörg Müller - ISS 2018 - pdf

Levitate Project Admin