updated 11:55 pm EST, Wed March 7, 2012
System appears to pair Kinect with pico projector
Microsoft's Research division has previewed a prototype system that utilizes a wearable projector as an alternative to touch-based input restricted to dedicated displays on devices such as smartphones. The technology, which was developed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University,
The technology turns any inert surface into an interactive panel, via a pico projector that presents a user interface. The demo shows a simplified version of Microsoft's Metro UI found on Windows Phone devices, and the host of the video notes that such a system could be used as an extension of the handset interface.
A depth-sensing camera, which resembles a stripped-down Kinect sensor in the tech preview, tracks a user's hand movements and registers touch input on the projection surfaces. The system appears to support common multi-touch gestures, including pinch-to-zoom, scrolling and basic button presses on interface features down to 2.3cm in size.
The tech demo requires a conspicuous setup that appears to combine a standard pico projector strapped to Kinect innards and a robust swivel-joint mounting system that wraps around a user's shoulder. The company suggests the necessary components can be miniaturized, however, to make the system more practical.
Microsoft has yet to formally announce any plans to bring projector-based multitouch hardware onto the market.