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Monday, January 11, 2010

The interactive projector that turns any surface into a Minority Report-style touch screen

By Claire Bates


    Fed up of lugging a heavy laptop around? Soon you could be typing documents and browsing the web on any nearby surface with the aid of a pioneering pocket-sized projector.

    An innovative British company called Light Blue Optics has created the Light Touch, which transforms any surface into a 10.1in touch screen, reminiscent of the film Minority Report.

    Light Touch
    The Light Touch works well with social networking sites and can be used to update your Twitter account
    The system uses holographic laser projection and infrared sensors to create a screen that supports multi-touch gestures, like many smart phones.

    The device was unveiled by the Cambridge based company at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    Dr Edward Buckley was on hand to show off its impressive features, including games, photo galleries and a video player with the brightness of 15 lumens.

    'With the photo application you can drag your pictures around into an order you like, view one by touching on it and also scroll through them. It's much like on an iPhone,' he told reporters.

    Dr Buckley from Light Blue Optics said the projectors could be useful in restaurants, shops and hotels
    Dr Buckley was even able to connect to his Twitter account online using the Light Touch's Wi Fi connection.
    Technology pundits at the show were surprised at how accurate the gadget was.

    Thomas Ricker from said: 'Despite our skepticism, we came away suitably surprised - impressed even.

    'The touch sensitivity was far more accurate than we expected - so good that we were quickly typing out phrases on the QWERTY with few mistakes.'

    Minority Report (2002)
    How the holographic projector works
    Holographic refers to the novel method of projection used by the Light Touch.
    A distorted version of the desired image is placed on a  microdisplay using diffraction patterns (the effective bending of light waves.)

    When this is illuminated with a laser it projects the correct image outwards, remaining in focus at all distances.
    It also works on curved surfaces.

    This makes it far more flexible than Microsoft Surface that needs large touchscreen panels attached to surfaces.
    Fiction to reality: Surface computers were imagined in the film Minority Report

    It currently has 2Gb of storage with SD card expansion. Dr Buckley said the technology also had the capability of connecting to other devices such as MP3 players and phones.
    'We are developing technology but we want to work with other companies to bring it to market,' Dr Buckley said.
    He said the device could be useful in restaurants, hotels and retail outlets to name a few.