We’ve seen some wacky ideas over the years but a fog-based display system is a new one to us. This unusual idea – which you can see in action in the video above – is based around a table-sized screen covered in mist, which can have both 2D video and 3D scenes projected onto it from above to create a virtual 3D environment you can reach into an manipulate.

In the video, the creators of the MisTable show users reaching into the mist and moving video around, and rotating a 3D model – both by pushing and pulling the content with their hands. Underpinning the system is real, actual mist over a FTIR multi-touch table/screen – with two BenQ projectors suspended above it. Interactivity is provided by both a Kinect for body tracking and a Leap Motion for finger tracking.

MisTable was created by boffins including Professor Sriram Subramanian and Dr Diego Martinez Plasencia from the University of Bristol and is to be presented at the CHI conference in Toronto, Canada. This is a showcase of new ideas in how humans and computers can interact, where last year we saw a Kinect sensor hacked for wheelchair gaming and electricity being used to zaps gamers' muscles to mimic force feedback – so this will be right at home.

"MisTable broadens the potential of conventional tables in many novel and unique ways,” says Sriram. "The personal screen [ie the fog] provides direct line of sight and access to the different interaction spaces.  Users can be aware of each other’s actions and can easily switch between interacting with the personal screen to the tabletop surface or the interaction section. This allows users to break in or out of shared tasks and switch between “individual” and “group” work."

If you want to learn more about the project, you can download the paper than the team will be presenting at CHI.