A Lightbulb for Touch
Powerful computers are becoming small and cheap enough to cram into all sorts of everyday objects. Natan Linder, a student at MIT’s Media Lab, thinks that fitting one inside a light bulb socket, together with a camera and projector, could provide a revolutionary new kind of interface—by turning any table or desk into a simple touch screen.
Linder describes LuminAR as an augmented-reality system because the images and interfaces it projects can alter the function of a surface or object. While LuminAR might seem like a far-fetched concept, many large technology companies are experimenting with new kinds of computer interfaces in hopes of discovering new markets for their products.
Linder’s system uses a camera, a projector, and software to recognize objects and project imagery onto or around them, and also to function as a scanner. It connects to the Internet using Wi-Fi. Some capabilities of the prototype, such as object recognition, rely partly on software running on a remote cloud server.
LuminAR could be used to create an additional display on a surface, perhaps to show information related to a task in hand. It can also be used to snap a photo of an object, or of printed documents such as a magazine. A user can then e-mail that photo to a contact by interacting with LuminAR’s projected interface.
Why I’m curious: As many brands are creating new products for consumers to interact with, I am interested in seeing the innovations with products and surfaces already at our fingertips. Additionally, adding hands-on interactivity to any surface in a home or office could expand the way computers are used today.