first_imgWith so much of our computing shifting from the traditional mouse/keyboard combo to multitouch interfaces over the last four years, it’s hard to imagine another big shift coming anytime soon. Yet researchers at the Carnegie Mellon Human Computer Interaction Institute (along with Microsoft) are hoping they can spur on another revolution. While it’s far from being ready for mass consumer use, they have developed – and are already demonstrating – tech that will essentially turn any surface into a touchscreen interface.The tech, called OmniTouch, projects a smartphone-like UI onto common surfaces. Not limited to obvious planes like tables and walls, it can also work with a hand or an arm, adjusting the projected interface along with movement. It detects touch points, including multitouch, and is friendly with the likes of pinch-to-zoom. It also plays nicely with Kinect-like 3D gestures, allowing for examples like cupping a hand forward for “private mode,” and back for “public mode.”A word of warning about the OmniTouch concept in its current state, though. You have to wear a lugging piece of equipment on your shoulder in order to use it. We’re talking about a big, cannon-like device that would make a Decepticon blush. Okay, maybe it isn’t quite that gaudy, but it looks similar to a Kinect sensor or Wall-E, and appears to be bigger. I certainly don’t point this out to mock the brilliant innovation that’s going on here, but to highlight that this is still years away from mass adoption.If the demonstration looks familiar, it’s similar to the concept video below that we saw this summer. The creator of this imaginative clip visualized a similar tech integrated into a future iPhone, projecting a keyboard onto the surface in front of the handset:Years down the road, if innovators like the OmniTouch team can get the projector device down to the size of a tie-tack or a piece of jewelry (or simply integrate it into a standard device, like the iPhone concept), this could revolutionize the way we interact with mobile devices once again. It is, however, still a projection, and is prone to hazy images and interference from objects between the projector and surface, so it would take major progress for it to replace physical devices altogether. But it isn’t difficult to see the enormous potential in this kind of multitouch UI.More at the project page, via Techcrunchlast_img read more