Tags: mit | touchscreen | device

MIT Researchers Turn Any Surface Into Touchless Screen

Thursday, 05 Feb 2009 10:20 AM

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LONG BEACH, California — U.S. university researchers have created a portable "sixth sense" device powered by commercial products that can channel Internet information seamlessly into daily routines.

The device created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists can turn any surface into a touch screen for computing, controlled by simple hand gestures.

The gadget can even take photographs if a user frames a scene with his hands, or project a watch face with the proper time on a wrist if the user makes a circle there with a finger.

The MIT wizards cobbled a Web camera, a battery-powered projector, and a mobile telephone into a gizmo that can be worn like jewelry. Signals from the camera and projector are relayed to smart phones with Internet connections.

"Other than letting some of you live out your fantasy of looking as cool as Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report' it can really let you connect as a sixth sense device with whatever is in front of you," said MIT researcher Patty Maes.

Maes used a Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference stage in Southern California on Wednesday to unveil the futuristic gadget made from store-bought components costing about $300.

The device can recognize items on store shelves, retrieving and projecting information about products or even providing quick signals to let users know which choices suit their tastes.

The gadget can look at an airplane ticket and let the user know whether the flight is on time, or recognize books in a book store and then project reviews or author information from the Internet onto blank pages.

The gizmo can recognize articles in newspapers, retrieve the latest related stories or videos from the Internet and play them on pages.

"You can use any surface, including your hand if nothing else is available, and interact with the data," Maes said.

"It is very much a work in progress. Maybe in ten years we will be here with the ultimate sixth-sense brain implant."

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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