Engineers from the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pennsylvania, USA, have developed an augmented reality projector capable of interacting with both the user and the environment on which it projects an image. The idea of projecting a virtual image onto a surface and having a user interact with it has been the subject of numerous research efforts in recent times. However, few of these efforts have made it to the market. Even so, the existing solutions have limited capabilities, due to the fact that users are expected to prepare a workspace for them. However, the CMU AR projector seems to have tackled this problem.
The prototype AR projector was created with little resources in a short time. It works fine on a clean surface. However, where it stands out is on a cluttered desk. There, it does not experience any inhibitions when projecting an image onto a desk littered with objects. The depth-sensing technology powering the device allows it to detect the user’s hands, like other commercially available alternatives do. However, it also identifies other objects like books, laptops, vacuum flasks and so on.
Once detected, the location of the foreign object is used as a reference point for the projector to rearrange the image it displays on the given surface. This means that the projector adapts to any given surface, rather than the user having to adapt their workspace to the device. The creators of this augmented reality projector, CMU’s Future Interfaces Group, initially started working on this project with the goal of eliminating the biggest issue with contemporary AR projectors, which is space. with this device, the group has certainly made a breakthrough.
This AR projector is just a prototype right now. There are no assurances that this technology will ever be commercialized. However, if AR projectors ever become mainstream, the CMU prototype will likely be a popular solution. More details on this unique project may follow in future.