Microsoft Research has released another glimpse into the future with their Wearable Multitouch Projector. Purely at prototype stage the projector allows users to turn any surface into a multitouch display.
Mounted comfortably on the shoulder, the device uses depth-sensing and a projection system to enable user interaction on a projected interface. Looking like something from the Predator films, the device has a good way to go before it could be a consumer product, but the concept is very exciting.
Impressive but currently a little impractical, the technology does have a lot of interesting applications. Robotics and STEM education are two I can think of off the top of my head. Would there be a need for the interactive whiteboard (IWB) if every surface could be a multitouch screen?
Not so much a replacement for the IWB, the Wearable Multitouch Projector could provide an additional level of flexibility and interaction over a whiteboard. Teachers could take content directly to students desks with resources literally at their fingertips. Motion sensing also provides much richer interaction with the projected display, opening up the use of gestures and manipulation not currently possible with an IWB.
Once miniaturized the technology could be be integrated into tablets and mobile devices. This could make for a completely different classroom environment. Do students need desks if any surface can be a workspace? The concepts and technology could create a truly paperless classroom where students can interact within their own virtual space.
I don’t see many teachers (or anyone for that matter) wandering around with a Kinect camera strapped to their shoulder just yet. Perhaps when the technology is a little less obtrusive we will start to see it integrated into devices, headgear, watches or something not yet invented. Until then, Microsoft Research are doing some very impressive work in their labs, so let’s wait and see how far off RoboTeacher really is.
What type of applications could you see for this technology in the classroom? And could you see it being integrated into other useful devices?