Interface developers, UI Centric's R&D wheels just keep on spinning. After making a splash with their innovative Windows 7 tablet touch interface, the design gurus are at it again and applying their techniques to a fledgling interface paradigm.
Light Blue Optics released their reference project in January of this year. The projector combines HLP (Holographic Laser Projection) with infrared sensors that can detect motion over the display surface. This enables touchscreen like behaviour on any flat surface.
UI Centric has taken this a step further by applying their design prowess and creating a slick UI for the technology. By researching and measuring specific qualities of the projection tech, UI Centric has determined the specific capabilities of the technology and devised an intuitive interface to fully harness the power of this recent development. Their demo includes not only a media player, but a photo browser. While this project is still just beginning, the potential for a fully fledged user environment is quite clear. As expected, their interface looks smooth and intuitive, and the company's UI research muscle is quite apparent even at such an early stage.
The uses of this technology are potentially far-reaching. From personal computing, to low footprint deployments in retail environments, the projector is not only novel but incredibly useful. By having the interface projected rather than contained in a physical tactile unit, wear and tear on kiosk type deployments would be reduced to almost nil. Home users could also utilize the tech in various ways. If the device packaging was improved, users could integrate the device into a home theatre setup or even into less usual places such as kitchens or even washrooms.
What is not currently known is the lifetime and user access to the projection bulb and other As this is a reference device, specific specifications have not yet been released. With some tweaking and proper placement, this technology could have similar users to Microsoft's Surface project, yet without the limitations of a physical surface. As an Innovation Honoree at last years CES, you can expect some new developments this coming January from UI Centric and Light Blue. Their anticipated improvements are much awaited and with proper corporate backing, the potential for this technology could very well be a consumer electronics hit.
As some fun speculation, if integrated with an interface such as UI Centric's tablet development and incorporated into a full Windows 7 or other operating system peripheral, along with being made portable, projected touch-screen devices may become as ubiquitous as netbooks or even the iPad.