New Device Can Turn Your Kitchen Table Into a Touchscreen

By Boonsri Dickinson | February 6, 2009 2:52 pm

hand.jpgIt’s not quite the gadget you see on Minority Reportbut it’s close. MIT researchers have built a device that can turn any flat surface into a touchscreen for computing—and to surf the Web, all you have to do is move your hand.

Built with a Web cam, a mirror, a projector, and a smart phone, the device can be worn like a necklace, and can act like an omniscient personal assistant, letting you know if your flight is late, helping you shop, or even providing a phone number. But there’s one caveat: You have to wear color-coded finger gloves on your index finger and thumb, so the Web cam can pick up your hand movements.

Once the device knows what information you’re looking for, it will search the Internet for data, then project the results onto any flat surface ranging from a wall to a hand. For instance, if a person draws a circle on their wrist to signal a watch, the computer will show the time on the person’s skin.

So is it priceless? Well, not on the production side: Lead researcher Patty Maes spent about $300 building this prototype. Which, when you think about what it can do, is pretty close to nothing.

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Image: flickr/ whiteafrican

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