Professor Sriram Subramanian, Dr Diego Martinez Plasencia and Florent Bethaut from the University of Bristol have built on a mirror's ability to map a reflection to one unique point behind the mirror independently of the observer's location.

"So even when the shop is closed, their reflection would be visible inside the shop window and that would enable them to try clothes on using their reflection, pay for the item using a debit/credit card and then have it delivered to their home," Subramanian explained.

In a museum, people in front of a cabinet would see the reflection of their fingers inside the cabinet overlapping the exact same point behind the glass.

"If this glass is at the front of a museum cabinet, every visitor would see the exhibits their reflection is touching and pop-up windows could show additional information about the pieces being touched," Subramanian pointed out.

Visitors could also interact with exhibits by focusing their eyes on them.

According to Subramanian, by directly pointing at the exhibit with their reflection instead of pointing at them through the glass, people could easily discuss the features of the exhibits with other visitors.

"This work offers exciting interactive possibilities that could be used in many situations. Semi-transparent surfaces are everywhere around us, in every bank and shop window," added Dr Diego Martinez, researcher in Human-Computer Interaction in the Bristol Interaction and Graphics (BIG) group.

The possibility to blend together the spaces in front and behind the semi-transparent mirror could mean a whole new type of interactive experience, researchers concluded.

The research paper is to be presented at ACM UIST 2014 'one of the world's most important conferences on human-computer interfaces' this month.

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