Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I guess they'd call it a "Handy 2.0"

A week ago, Jake Kuramoto wrote a post entitled "Smartphones All Look Alike, Are Boring." This prompted me to write a post entitled "How about a cell phone with a giant display?" In my post, I mused upon a potential smartphone that would project its screen on something such as a wall. After finding such a projection device, I then said:

Now if you combine this projection capability with something like the Kinect technology that Steve Ballmer successfully launched, then you can use a very small device to work in a very large area. Perhaps you can't eliminate the screen - after all, as I noted above, you can't always find a wall on which to project - but you can certainly rethink the design of your portable device to optimize its projection capabilities.

It turns out that my concerns had already been overcome, as you can see in Jake's latest post, "Turn Any Surface into a Touchscreen? Yes, Please." Kuramoto's post describes a concept called OmniTouch, jointly developed by Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University. Kuramoto's post includes a video which begins as follows:

OmniTouch uses a depth camera-driven, template matching and clustering approach for multi-touch finger tracking on everyday surfaces, including walls, doors, tables, notepads, books, and even one's own body.

Well, that takes care of the "no place to project" problem - most of the video shows a person using his own hand as a touchscreen surface.

Kuramoto also links to a TechCrunch post that discusses OmniTouch.

And on his own site, researcher Chris Harrison explains why the OmniTouch concept was explored:

Today’s mobile computers provide omnipresent access to information, creation and communication facilities. It is undeniable that they have forever changed the way we work, play and interact. However, mobile interaction is far from solved. Diminutive screens and buttons mar the user experience, and otherwise prevent us from realizing their full potential.

Again, the team is trying to overcome the size limitations of small devices.

Coincidentally, in Switzerland and other German-speaking countries, a mobile phone is referred to as a "handy." Does that mean that if this concept is eventually incorporated into production technology, the result will be called a "Handy 2.0"?
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