“Stealth Aerial Interface” Mid-Air Display and Input Device

In the first world, Alps Alpine Co., Ltd. and Utsunomiya University are developing “Invisible Air Interface”, a next-generation human-machine interface (HMI) product that achieves both aerial display – using retroreflective aerial photography – and air input and control – based on high-sensitivity capacitive sensing – with stealth icon integration. For superior design as application of decorative printing technology. Stealth Aerial will provide an entirely new touchless control experience that brings security, comfort and emotion to users in the new normal. Alps Alpine and Utsunomiya University unveiled the product together at the International Display Workshops (IDW ’21), an academic conference for display technology held December 1-3, 2021, and received positive responses from experts in the display industry. After conducting market research and bringing the product to a high level of completion, we initially aim for product adoption by 2025 in display and control applications in public places, such as elevators and ticket machines, and areas where security considerations are required.

Background on development

There are many situations where people prefer to avoid touching input devices directly in public places. Elevator buttons, train ticket machines, supermarket self-checkout systems… who else might be touching them? What if they are not clean? What if their hands are dirty? This aversion to touch has recently become more evident due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and increased fear of disease transmission. Other social concerns include the theft of fingerprints left on controls during the touch process. Hygiene considerations and security risks highlight the growing need for a non-contact insertion device operation in a community transitioning to the new normal.

However, with controllers not connected to contact, users get nervous because they are unable to intuitively feel the distance they can operate from and eventually resort to touch. Touch controls will only become mainstream when they allow convenient and intuitive operation.

Alps Alpine has been developing air input devices by applying original high-sensitivity capacitive sensor technology since 2008 and has been able to increase the pace of product development after the recent surge in demand for touchless control, even acquiring the AirInput™ brand. In May 2021, AirInput™ solutions were approved on a trial basis for use in indoor lighting and elevator applications1. Since then, Alps Alpine has been conducting ongoing sales promotion activities in connection with the AirInput™ line in preparation for mass production in 2022. In optics, a core technical field created through activities including the development of optical communication lenses, Alps Alpine has owned since 2019 It is also developing the technology of elements related to aerial photography by means of retroreflective.

The Yamamoto Laboratory at Utsunomiya University has been conducting research related to 3D rendering and multimedia kansei (emotional) information science—in particular, aerial photography by retroreflective (AIRR)—since 2014. Professor Hirotsugu Yamamoto, the lab’s principal investigator, is a pioneer in the field Pneumatic interfaces and won many awards in research and development.

With the aim of achieving convenient and more convenient contactless operation and accelerating the spread of touchless devices in society, the two parties moved to start joint development which includes the integration of contactless control devices developed by Alps Alpine using original high sensitivity capacitive sensor with backflip technology based on aerial imaging theories that Researched by Utsunomiya University.

development scheme

The co-developed Stealth Aerial interface combines an air input device based on a high-sensitivity capacitive sensing with an aerial imaging function, an application of feedback technology, to enable comfortable, intuitive and stress-free touch-free device operation by interacting with the image in mid-air, As if you were operating any switch, touchpad, or other traditional touch-controlled device.

Stealth Aerial Interface also uses decorative printing technology to improve the design of the final product. At first glance, the surface is indistinguishable as a display, ingeniously crafted to look like wood, metal, or another material. Only when the hand gets close, affecting the amplitude, do stealth symbols appear in the air.

Touchless operation reduces the risk of disease transmission and the risk of fingerprint theft, contributing to user safety, while excellent operability and a design that blends into the space to avoid any fading in the ambient atmosphere provide unprecedented comfort and emotion to deliver a new touchless experience. control experience.

This jointly developed product is the world’s first human-machine interface (HMI) integrating capacitive sensing, aerial display, and decorative printing technologies. The advantages over using cameras and infrared light for non-contact technology are high input accuracy, especially during operations at very close proximity, and excellent design performance. Furthermore, since there is no need to install sensors or display devices out of the package, there is greater flexibility in the design of the final product, creating potential for use in a wide range of applications.

Alps Alpine has unique strengths in the ability to handle everything from component sourcing – highly sensitive capacitive sensors and aerial photography optical elements – to user interface (UI) design – ensuring information is clearly communicated to users – and system design to link them together and enable seamless and convenient output corresponds to the input. The level of product completeness will be raised by the application of research related to air supply control, an area in which Utsunomiya University has been a world leader.

Alps Alpine and Utsunomiya University jointly unveiled the product at the world’s largest academic display technology conference, International Display Workshops (IDW ’21), held December 1-3, 2021, and received positive responses from experts in the display industry.


After conducting market research to further identify needs and issues and bringing the product to a high level of completion, we initially aim for product adoption in displays and controls in public spaces, such as elevators and ticket machines, by 2025. We will also explore applications in amusement equipment and automotive systems. Beyond that, we have our sights set on a world where Extended Reality (XR)2 The services are popular and plan to advance in development with the goal of deploying the product as a visual information display device with minimal impact on the body since no need for goggles and other wearables. Our goal is to bring security, comfort and emotion to HMI users in the new normal and to contribute to a post-2030 world where people and cyberspace interact seamlessly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.