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MIT Tech Turns Any Surface into a User Interface

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posted on May, 3 2013 @ 01:07 PM
MIT Tech Turns Any Surface into a User Interface, but Useless without Google Glass

With Google Glass just around the corner, augmented reality is finally becoming a realistic part of our foreseeable future. The idea of AR — that we could dynamically edit information into (or out of) a live video feed as it’s being displayed — has never been undercut by software or hardware power, but by the simple fact that the concept requires both a camera and a display. Even the tech industry, with its almost religious belief in the unlimited potential of early adoption, saw that the world would never accept a lifestyle upgrade that requires them to keep an iPad held in front of their faces. It is steps forward on the usability side that have brought real potential to the technology’s dreams of consumer relevance, and now it’s finally time for the software developers to take advantage of that potential.

MIT Media Lab has released a video to go along with its recent publications detailing new AR interface technology it claims could put “a user interface on any surface.” In the video below, we see the researchers control an MP3 player and a set of speakers using an interface dynamically layered atop the iPad’s video feed.

The demonstration still uses ye olde augmented reality techniques, however, still requiring us to hold our iPads out like a portable X-ray viewer. From a practical standpoint, this makes the technology fundamentally a gimmick, since most people get annoyed with having to touch a tiny button on a 2D interface; it’s simply impossible to imagine large-scale adoption of a solution that forces me to properly align two devices in 3D space, just to change speaker volume. Taken purely as a display of software power, however, and with a faithful belief that this code can be migrated from iOS onto more realistic platforms, this idea begins to show promise.

What we need is an end-user solution like Google Glass but with a much larger footprint in the field of view, probably something retractable, and it would need to be much better at interpreting its wearer’s hand waving than current Kinect-like software solutions — or would they take a page from Sony’s Move and have us wearing colored thimbles? Regardless, widespread enough adoption of such a Glass 2.0 solution, and of the object-end controllers seen in this demonstration, could lead to some truly interesting new ways of dealing with technology. What if your buddy’s stereo used precisely the same button layout as your own — and at the same time, he could use his preferred control scheme to fiddle with yours? What if your passwords, or your bank PIN, never actually appeared on-screen, even as stars? What if we could make virtually every device cheaper by replacing buttons with easily machine-read visual patterns, literally painting buttons onto devices?

The technology works by wirelessly networking devices with a simple home router, and running software that keeps the various connected objects in some level of spatial “awareness” of one another. This means that to support an interface, an object must be fitted with a small computer chip and a wireless card — don’t expect to be using your phone to pop up the lever on your toaster any time soon. Presumably, the idea is that more and more home and public devices will be fitted with such controllers automatically.

The technology is clearly still in its infancy; yet another solution designed for a world that doesn’t exist yet. It’s another chicken-egg conundrum; why should a bar pay to put a controller in its jukebox when so few customers could use it, and why would we buy an AR interface like Google Glass without a wealth of controllers already in place to use? The only future I see for AR interfaces springs from the widespread adoption of Google Glass, and competitors. The success of this sort of tech will likely hinge on whether we can put a display in front of a majority of consumer eyeballs.

Seemed as very interesting news. It is still in its infancy, although I can´t wait for the time, when something like that would be possible for mainstream use.

Reminds me of the Corning video:

A Day Made of Glass

Well wait and see it coming, sooner or later

edit on 3-5-2013 by Cabin because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 01:31 PM
I wonder how they think all that tech will be powered.

Its a cool idea though.

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 01:56 PM
HOLY BALLS! This is great stuff, I never even though about this being possible, that door opener is amazing its like you could have an entirely hidden world in your own home that is customized and viewable by you only.

I want these google glass so hard! I have been waiting and waiting and I will buy the crap out of a pair as soon as possible. the only negative is I wear glasses so I am not sure how that will work out.

I would like to see these devices powered wirelessly like with that technology that charges batteries across the room. I am so tired of having plugs for everything all over, especially if it was for small things like a radio or mp3 player.

The only negative about this tech is unless you have your ipad or google glass you couldn't control most things, also everyone in the house would have to have one to use stuff.

I am also wondering since I haven't used one how distracting or how hard it is to look at the glass screen while you are doing normal things like driving, I don't think I could look at the road with 1 eye and look at stuff popping up in front of my other eye. Our eyes are not really good with processing things individually also, they are made to work together so not sure about the 1 eye thing.

I have also never been impressed by those theater glasses they have, I have tried a few different ones and always return them, for one if you wear glasses its annoying and usually impossible to use and it usually is very low quality and hurts my eyes after a few minutes, usually they are pretty bulky also.

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 01:59 PM
I have a way to power it, with all the hot air our government keeps blowing up our collective asses...

But maybe google will buy them out soon and we can all work for them. The future seems incorporated, pack your things, " YOU"RE ALL THE DRONES THEY"RE LOOKING FOR ".

posted on May, 3 2013 @ 02:35 PM

Kinda reminds me of a book I read recently.

Daniel Suarez: Daemon and its sequel FreedomTM

Both extremely good reads and higly reccomended especially for the tech saavy.


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