Friday, January 8, 2010

Light Touch Pico Projector Creates Touchscreen Out of Anything

Rumors of the Light Touch projection system have been in the pipeline for a little while, and we finally got to do a hands-on demo with the device here at CES. The basics: Light Touch converts any flat surface into a 10-inch screen, from tabletops to walls -- and it's interactive. The surprisingly bright, high-resolution image responds to touch, thanks to an infrared sensing system that tracks the user's finger movements with relatively rapid response.

Using a holographic laser projection (HLP) system, Light Touch displays images without scanning, resulting in a clearer picture. Since the company claims that the "image is always in focus," we picked it up, tilted it, and attempted to prove them wrong. But readers, LBO speaks the truth. Check out our hands on video after the break.Currently running both Windows CE and Adobe Flash Lite, Light Touch is a technology that software developers will be able to employ with relative ease. LBO announced at CES that Adobe, Toshiba, and Microsoft -- among others -- have all agreed to support further development of Light Touch applications.

The potential applications for Light Touch are untold. In our demo, we took a look at a prototype menu app, which restaurateurs could use in place of physical menus, allowing diners to order directly from the surface of a tabletop. A wall-mounted Light Touch acted as a virtual closet from which to pick a digital ensemble. On the consumer level, Light Touch would be ideal for the kitchen, enabling you to sift through recipes without the fear of dirtying a screen with greasy fingers. And since the Light Touch has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capability, it's able to connect to back-end systems, as well as to the Internet. At this point, Light Touch boasts 2 gigabytes of flash memory to hold software and media, but that's sure to grow.

We did notice some lags and lockups (although minimal) in the interface, but we imagine these poor projectors must be completely exhausted from the throngs of tech nerds flocking to the LBO booth to play. After their six years in development, we expect those kinks to all be sorted out by the time it goes on sale. Unfortunately, we're not sure when that will be, or how much the thing will cost.

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