Kinect-like technology turns any surface into a touchscreen

Technology projects a touchscreen onto your hand, clothes, a wall, or any surface, so you can operate your phone without removing it from your pocket.
Touchscreen projected on hand

Photo: chrisharrisoncmu/YouTube

Imagine a world where any surface could potentially become a touchscreen for your phone: your hands, clothes, a wall or table. That’s the vision behind a new Kinect-like technology called OmniTouch, a wearable system that projects any multi-touch interface onto everyday surfaces, reports New Scientist.
Perhaps the most convenient aspect of the technology is how it can be operated on the go, requiring no special calibration for each new surface it is used on. The system adapts easily to surfaces of most textures in 3D space, so it works even when the surface is not flat, such as with your hand, or perhaps a tree trunk.
The technology, which is primarily composed of a shoulder-mounted depth camera and a Pico-projector, was developed by researchers at Microsoft and is a vast improvement over previous prototypes that could only work on skin. A user study of the technology showed that dragging performance and touch accuracy approached the sensitivity of conventional touchscreens.
The device also allows for user flexibility far beyond the capability of your phone or tablet. For instance, users can choose the position and size of the projected interface, meaning that they can adjust the size of the screen to better suite their needs and eyesight. OmniTouch is also itself capable of intelligently choosing the best display setting, so the user doesn’t have to readjust with each new surface.
The only inconvenient aspect of the prototype is the bulkiness of the camera and projector, which are mounted on a user’s shoulder like a large parrot. The good news, though, is that future prototypes are expected to be much smaller, closer to the size of a matchbox.

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