Finally, Intelligent Sliding Doors Like The Ones In Star Trek

Conventional automatic doors are are pretty basic — and a far cry from the the intuitive doors portrayed in Star Trek which seem to know when someone's coming — and even how fast they're going. It's taken a while, but Japanese researchers have now made these doors a reality.

These doors only open if you intend to use them and they can estimate when you'll arrive at it such that it will finish opening just as you get there. This last feature is pretty neat; just try running towards an automatic door at your local grocery store.

Evan Ackerman from IEET Spectrum explains more:

The secret to this intelligence is no secret: the door has a fancy custom sensor (a 3D time-of-flight laser scanner) coupled with algorithms that can detect people, track their motion, and make educated guesses about whether or not they're aiming for the door. Somewhat unusually for a research paper like this, there is some serious consideration of practicalities, too. The sensor is designed to function in places with ambient light ranging from direct sunlight to total darkness (between 0 and 200,000 lx), and software can compensate for snow, rain, water on the sensor itself, and interference from other nearby sensors.

Of course, fancy doors like these come at a cost. They're about $1,000 more than a conventional automatic door sensor. But the developers are hoping to bring the price down over the next year or so.

More at IEEE Spectrum.