We’ve seen combinations of pico-projectors and cameras used for new interface systems before – perhaps most memorably the wearable “Sixth Sense” computer – but MIT Media Lab researcher’s Natan Linder’s LuminAR is perhaps the first to include an angle-poise robot too. At its core, the “LuminAR bulb” is a pico-projector, a camera and the necessary electronics combined into a standard screw-mount, capable of projecting an interface onto your table or wall and tracking touch and motion gestures you make toward it. When screwed into a robotic arm, however, the whole thing gets even more impressive.
Video demo after the cut
That’s because the robot arm can move the LuminAR bulb around depending on what you’re doing at the time. That could include a preset position showing IM and email status for easy, glanceable updates, or it could track your own movements around the desk, either keeping the UI visible no matter how much clutter you have, or superimposing information on top of books or magazines that you’re reading. For instance, you could be reading a text and then tap a word that you don’t recognize, and LuminAR could project a definition right over the top.
It also recognizes 2D barcodes, which could be used as shortcuts. “This interface basically releases pixels from the screen, you can put them on other spaces” Linder says, highlighting the fact that even if you don’t have a slick robot arm spare, the generic light bulb fixture means you could use a normal lamp as the base station for a LuminAR interface.