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Microsoft Research's Depth Camera Makes Any Surface A Touch Screen
Microsoft Research's Depth Camera Makes Any Surface A Touch Screen
October 18, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

October 18, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC, Programming, Design

A new project from Microsoft Research and Carnegie Mellon University combines Kinect-like depth-sensing camera with a projector to turn any flat surface into a potential multi-touch interface.

The Omnitouch system is a shoulder-mounted apparatus that comprises a pico projector and a depth-sensing camera from Kinect technology-maker PrimeSense -- one that's similar to the Xbox peripheral but modified to work at smaller ranges.

The system can project interactive interfaces and games onto anything from a palm or forearm to a sheet of paper or a table, as shown in this video demonstration.

As described in detail in an academic paper [PDF], the Omnitouch system uses a variety of techniques to detect when a finger has made contact with a surface, and to automatically adjust the projected image to be centered and in focus as the user and the touch surface move.

The researchers point out that such an interface does not face the size limitations of standard touch-screen devices -- users can even use a finger to "draw" a working area of arbitrary size on the surface.

While the shoulder-mounted device looks a bit unweildy to actually wear for extended periods at the moment, the researchers believe future miniaturization will eventually let an Omnitouch fit into an area the size of a matchbox, to potentially be worn as a pendant or watch.

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Nick Kinsman
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Honestly, I think this is a neat principle. Lots of little things could come of it down the road.

Now, on the other hand, not to sound like a pessimist, but I can't wait for the patent lawsuit in 5 years time ... =_=

Joseph Caddell
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Dude I can totally see them using this tech for Sci-fi games, such as using keypads to unlock doors, etc, etc...

Alex K
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Reminds me of the laser keyboard

Luis Guimaraes
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Not news, but still something that can be very useful for many things, except gaming.

Doug Poston
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Everything can be used for gaming. :)

And technology that can turn any flat surface into a touch tablet has endless gaming possibilities.

Harris Javed
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Easily topped by this one:

It's incredible what this guy has done. There's also some instructions to build you're very own somewhere on the net. I think if you watch the videos, a link is provided somewhere. I should state that one major difference is that the Sixth Sense user must wear color coated rings in order for it to work.

Alan Rimkeit
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Minority Report much? This tech rules and the possibilities are nearly endless for interfaces.

Eric Wildsmith
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Hold on, isn't this from like 2 years ago? I saw a TED demonstration about this. It was originally a next mounted device that was supposed to be used as a phone.