Augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) are fast-developing technologies, with many companies seeking to advance the technology towards the state where users can have fully holographic displays and interfaces, similar to what Tony Stark uses in The Avengers movies. One small new invention may move the technology further towards that goal with just a standard lightbulb fitting.
A group of researches at Carnegie Mellon University are working on a project called ‘Desktopography’. By using a small projector alongside a depth sense and a computer it is possible to project images on to surfaces that can move around and stay out of the way of other objects. The hardware screws into a standard threaded lightbulb socket, using the lamp for power.
The Desktopology hardware can be used to project things like a calculator or map on to a desk, and the projection can then be interacted with and moved around in a similar way to how a smartphone screen works. If an object such as a cup is placed in the way of the projection, the software will move the projected image to an open location. The projections can also be ‘linked’ to a particular object, so if something like a map or calender is linked to a book, the projection will follow the book as it moves around the room.
Project leader Robert Xiao, a graduate student at the university says that the Desktopology prototype is still in testing phase in the lab, and admits that there are still hurdles to be overcome before Desktopology is ready to be a commercial product, since precise multi-touch tracking is still being worked on, and there is an ongoing problem with heat buildup due to the products small size.
“It’s about trying to break interaction out from our screens and our devices, where they’re separated from reality, and a separate world, really … and try to merge those onto our environment,” Xiao says.
VRFocus will bring you further news on the Desktopology project as it becomes available.