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Touching light

In the next decade I am pretty sure that we will be interacting with objects by touching them, no longer switches and knobs but just surfaces that would look like screens.  We have got used to touch a tablet screen, that is what I am doing right now as I write this post, and similarly touching surfaces to interact with an object will become quite natural.

There are a few technologies that can support this kind of interactions. One was showcased at WMC in March 2017 by Sony and will become available as product in the first half of 2017.

It is based on  a projector with an integrated IR sensor. The projector can project an image on a surface (covering a rectangle basically equivalent to a 30′ screen) and the sensor detects the presence of your hand/finger in a specific location and the gesture you are doing. A software that comes with the projector let an application understand what you are doing and reacts correspondently. The effect is that of using a gigantic tablet. You are actually touching the light. There are plenty of possible applications, basically all the ones we are using today on a tablet plus new ones that are connected to the type of object.

The projector, Xperia Touch, will be marketed at 1,500$.

What I find interesting is the transformation of our perception of objects into entities we can interact with in a much more seamless way.

Down the lane, in the next decade, I can imagine the use of smart materials to transform any object surface into an interactive interface.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. He's currently Head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital, co-chair of the Symbiotic Autonomous Systems Initiative of IEEE-FDC. Until Aprile 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books. He writes a daily blog,  http://sites.ieee.org/futuredirections/category/blog/, with commentary on innovation in various technology and market areas.