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Researcher Gives New Meaning To "Table Talk"

posted 12 Jun 2013, 11:19 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Jun 2013, 11:20 ]

 Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed an interactive touch interface that can be projected on to any flat surface. Called 'World Kit', the system is geared towards allowing users to interact with their environment in the same way they do their smart phones and tablets. Ben Gruber reports.

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA, UNITED STATES (REUTERS AND CARNEGIE MELLON) - For Robert Xiao, there's more to an ordinary table than meets the eye. He and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University have developed technology that can transform the table - and any other flat surface - into an interactive touch screen. Xiao calls his device, "World Kit".

Instead of pulling a cookbook off the shelf, a few swipes of a hand produces an interactive recipe guide. Xiao's favourite example of "World Kit's" usefulness applies to anyone with a television..


"If you have ever lost a TV remote you know that the TV remote never stays in one place but you kind of want it to be near you. So if you had a World Kit System in your house you could say I want the interface for the TV to be roughly in this area."

The system prototype comprises a projector and a depth camera, both of which are controlled by software that guides the user interface. The projector generates the display and the depth camera detects the user's hand movements as they interact with the surface. These interactions are fed back to the software program which manipulates the surface accordingly.


"We see a very big market in people being able to interact with their homes in the same way that they do their smart phones. And we see a very big market in being able to expand the space of mobile interaction beyond simply devices, little screens, and out into the world around us."

Currently the prototype is bulky but Xiao says its components are getting smaller and more mobile every year as the technology advances. He envisions a commercial model about the same size and shape as a light bulb - an idea that could turn every home into a giant touch screen with the click of a button.