Multi user interaction with handheld projectors

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Handheld projectors are the next big thing in mobile devices. They make it possible to project a screen on almost any surfuce, anywhere. This technology opens up a whole new world of interactive possibilities. A group of researchers came up with the idea to explore multi user interaction for these handheld projectors.

At CES09 the handheld projectors were received with great enthusiasm. The researchers in the video are exploring the possibilities and complexities that arise when you combine multiple projections in a room and make them responsive to each other. Check it out:

The video shows a lot of explorations, not all of them interesting. But that’s how research goes. I personally think handheld projectors suck when you use them for highly interactive tasks, like swapping and sharing files. But they are interesting for exploring and playing around. The treasure hunt idea could be interesting though.

But just exploring technical possibilities isn’t interesting. It’s also very important to ask questions. Like: how do people feel and act when they suddenly can share their personal data in public? I’m really curious in what way people will use it. I don’t think they will beam their agenda and personal letters. In our minds these things are personal and for us. A mobile phone is small and can be ‘protected’ from the world, that makes it a great device. When people have a beamer we have to look at new possible uses. But these are just my thoughts. It would be great if the researchers would explore this. My hunch is that video projecting and new explorative games (the search light metaphor is great) such as the treasure hunt and augmented reality will make the projectors big.

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

3 comments on this article

  1. cnawan on

    Interesting. That’s perhaps the very first example I’ve seen of real world tasks being performed in an Augmented Reality environment. I share your hesitance over the actual usefulness of projector technology, but I can easily imagine this kind of research being very useful when applied to a Heads Up Display environment – no issues of privacy there. In fact it could be worse – if two people are wearing HUDs and ‘think’ they’re seeing the same view, one of them could have been hacked, etc and could be manipulated into authorising something they wouldn’t otherwise.

  2. CD Evans on

    This is very important technology.

    Imagine it at high resolution. In focus. Not very complicated stuff to achieve, but it could easily lead to replacing screens, in many situations. Shine it at the train station to see the train info, in the shops to see the product info, at your friends computer to access files, etc. The possibilities are really endless, especially with multiple projectors. Wouldn’t be suprised if some of the interaction patterns in this video make their way into the future, even in other use cases.

    Enjoy it, it’s like the early days of television, all over again.