Students at the MIT Media Lab have developed a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen. The wearer can summon virtual gadgets and internet data at will, then dispel them like smoke when they're done.
Pattie Maes of the lab's Fluid Interfaces group said the research is aimed at creating a new digital "sixth sense" for humans.
In the tactile world, we use our five senses to take in information about our environment and respond to it, Maes explained. But a lot of the information that helps us understand and respond to the world doesn't come from these senses. Instead, it comes from computers and the internet. Maes' goal is to harness computers to feed us information in an organic fashion, like our existing senses.
The prototype was built from an ordinary webcam and a battery-powered 3M projector, with an attached mirror -- all connected to an internet-enabled mobile phone. The setup, which costs less than $350, allows the user to project information from the phone onto any surface -- walls, the body of another person or even your hand.
Pretty cool what they can accomplish with just $350 worth of hardware. To be honest though, I am not sure how much value this has over just getting out a smart phone to access the information. If they integrate the projector into glasses and get rid of the need for special Magic Marker caps on fingers, then I think they have something.
I like the concept of "augmented reality" though, where additional information about products or people can be gathered from the internet and then displayed to you in real time.
More cool stuff in this video which shows (yet again) that in the future humans will spend most of their time resizing and rotating images.