Microsoft Research is on a bit of a roll lately with their future-tech demonstrations. At the end of last month they showed off a Holoflector augmented reality mirror, a physical object sharing projector called Illumishare, and an interactive transparent 3D desktop using Samsung’s transparent OLED.
This week Microsoft has revealed another device for the future, one which looks to be an extension of Carnegie Mellon’s HCI Institute Omnitouch project. What Microsoft have done is to clip a Kinect motion controller and pico projector together, and mount them on your shoulder. The combination of devices produces a projection on any given surface that the user can interact with just like a touchscreen.
Obviously the parts needs to be miniaturized, but this wearable multitouch projector could one day replace the need to actually carry a phone or tablet. Instead, you’d just clip a small device to a shirt pocket or jacket, and project your screen when you need it.
The projector doesn’t just use the Kinect to capture input though, it also helps determine the size of the surface being worked on. If it’s a wall, you may get a 10-inch projection, but if you hold a small notebook up, the image is adjusted to fit within its bounds. That’s both clever and useful if you want what you’re doing to remain a little more private.
And what’s the other benefit of using Kinect? It allows for gestures, so for certain actions you may not even need a display. For example, make a “call someone” gesture, say the name you want to call, and the person’s phone rings.
There’s no plans to bring this to market any time soon, but there’s a lot of potential for this setup to become a future replacement for today’s phones and tablets. It’s also another example of the diversity of Kinect, and the potential it has to form the core of many future Microsoft hardware devices.