Researchers from the University of Bristol's Department of Computer Science have shown off a new tabletop display that is capable of showing different overlays to individual users. This new overlay called PiVOT (personalized view-overlays for tabletops), is being shown off at the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST).

The device offers multiple view zones that are designed for individual users to see content that is only theirs, while a shared view shows everyone the same content at the same time. This is the first tabletop system of its kind, and could offer some incredible possibilities for working collaboratively.

Users access the private views by changing their position relative to the tabletop. Leaning back allows them to see the shared view, and leaning forward brings them to their private view. Users place markers on the screen to view more information based on where they are placed. Importantly, users sitting back looking at the shared view will not have their view obstructed by the overlay.

Two demo applications were shown that provide an idea of the possibilities this tabletop offers. The first demo shows a map, where the shared view is the entire world. If a user leans forward, they see points of interest on the map that other users do not. The developers also demoed an anatomy app that gives an overall view of the human body and more detailed information when a user leans forward or places a marker.

The shared view is projected on Lumisty film, which is designed to display different content depending on the viewing angle, while content displayed in a user's personal view zone is displayed on a liquid crystal sandwich display. They work together without interfering with what is being displayed on each other.

The technology is somewhat similar in function to the Dual Play feature found on LG's 55-inch OLED TV unveiled earlier this year. Instead of using the TV's 3D capabilities to send different perspectives of the same scene to a viewer, the TV sends two different 2D images to different users, thereby allowing two gamers to enjoy full screen multiplayer action.

You can watch a demo of the PIVOT system below.