Hand-held projector images respond to the real world

POWERPOINT presentations are about to get a sprinkle of fairy dust. A hand-held projector can now create virtual characters and objects that interact with the real world. The device – called Twinkle – projects animated graphics that respond to patterns, shapes or colours on a surface, or even 3D objects such as your hand. It uses a camera to track relevant elements – say a line drawn on a wall – in the scene illuminated by the projector and an accelerometer ensures it can sense the projector’s rapid motion and position. “The device projects animations that respond to patterns, shapes or colours on a surface” Software then matches up the pixels detected by the camera with the animation, making corrections for the angle of projection and distance from the surface. The device could eventually fit inside a cellphone, says Takumi Yoshida of the University of Tokyo. A prototype which projects a cartoon fairy that bounces off or runs along paintings on a wall or even the surface of a bottle (pictured) was presented at the recent Virtual Reality 2010 meeting in Waltham, Massachusetts. Yoshida and his colleagues are also developing a way for graphics from several projectors to interact, which could be used for gaming. Anthony Steed of University College London is impressed. Many researchers have been attempting to create virtual graphics that can interact with a real surface, he says,
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