Interactive projector turns surfaces into touch screens (from CES)

January 6, 2010 by Dave Haynes

Lotsa, lotsa new gadgets emerging from the CES show floor in Lost Wages this week, with the one that caught my eye a little laser projection thingdoodle from a UK company.

Light Blue Optics’ Light Touch is an interactive projector that turns any flat surface into a 10-inch touch screen, allowing it to make information, images and video available when projected on to a table or wall or other surface.

Light Touch™ not only frees multimedia content from the confines of the small screen, but also lets users interact with that content in the same way as they expect to on their other hand-held devices – using touch technology. The invite-only product launch will take place tomorrow evening (6 Jan 2010) at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 10) in Las Vegas. Light Touch™ is a reference product and will be made available to Light Blue Optics’ OEM customers and other strategic partners.

Light Touch™ incorporates LBO’s proprietary holographic laser projection technology (HLP™), creating bright, high-quality WVGA resolution video images that are always in focus. HLP™ enables extremely wide throw angles, resulting in large images being created at close proximity to the projector’s aperture. HLP™ can also correct for distortion and optical aberrations in software, enabling novel table-top projection. A unique optical architecture delivers a Class 1 laser safety classification making HLP™ and devices that incorporate it eye safe.

Light Touch™ includes an infra-red touch sensing system that transforms the projected image into a virtual 10? touch screen. The user can control the projector and interact with multimedia content and applications simply by touching the projected image. Light Touch™ runs Adobe Flash Lite 3.1, leveraging a large existing developer community and enabling the rapid development of innovative applications. WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity enable device to device communication and applications that connect directly to the internet such as social networking, multimedia sharing and electronic point of sale. Light Touch™ is equipped with 2GB of onboard Flash memory and has a Micro SD card slot that supports up to 32GB. Light Touch™ can be wall powered or battery operated, with a run-time of 2 hours before recharging is required.

Light Blue Optics’ CEO, Chris Harris said “At LBO, we believe that today’s consumer is no longer a passive viewer of multimedia content. People expect to engage, interact and share content and our first product enables them to do that in new and exciting ways. The opportunities for Light Touch™ extend beyond consumer electronics into retail spaces, the workplace and the home – profoundly changing the way people interact with multimedia content and the built environment. By enabling such diverse and compelling use cases, LBO aims to become the world’s leading supplier of miniature projection systems.”

The gadget has a CPU of some kind with enough horsepower, apparently, to run Flash Lite and video files, and it runs Windows CE. There has been a lot of chatter for a couple of years know about little LED-driven pico projectors (even built in to smart phones) but the brightness really isn’t there yet in many cases.

These things definitely aren’t bright either, with 15 lumens for video, but in the circumstances shown that’s probably not such a big issue. The images are conceptual and maybe the ambient light is more of a problem than depicted, but assuming that is dealt with the application to put these things on tables and walls and other spots is really interesting and different.

Would love to see one up close, so if anyone is at CES and reads this, send along impressions.

As spotted in Engadget and relayed by a few people and Tweets.

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