For several years now, Intel has used its annual Research@Intel event to showcase an interactive projected display. The idea is that any surface can be turned into a space to flip through photos, watch videos and even compose documents. At today’s event in San Francisco, people crowded around a table to doodle and type messages with their fingers on a projected screen.
It’s easy to see why the technology has wide appeal. Most people have made the leap from a physical keyboard to a touchscreen on their phone or tablet, and it doesn’t feel very different to type on a tabletop as opposed to a screen made of Gorilla Glass. It may even be easier, since a user can adjust a projected screen to be as small or large as they wish.
An Intel expert raised a brilliant application: mobile phones. As the need and desire to interact with data while mobile has grown, a range of screen sizes have emerged for different types of personal use. We work on laptops with large screens and read on medium-sized iPads. But most of the time, we rely solely on a tiny phone screen to read our email, catch up on the news or share moments with friends.
What if that phone could have any size screen? That’s the promise of an embedded projector. Suddenly, your Mailbox app becomes iPad-sized, laptop-sized, even wall-sized. If you get caught on a surprise deadline with just your cellphone, you don’t have to tap away on its tiny keypad. And you wouldn’t need extra accessories or a particularly smooth surface: You could even wear gloves.
The projector demonstrated by Intel Tuesday is obviously still a prototype. It lagged at times, and at one point I was sent away for a few moments so Intel employees could reboot the system after it froze. The projector and camera that make the touch sensitivity possible will need to shrunk to a size that can fit comfortably inside a phone. But it was the only project at Research@Intel where people jumped in to test it already knowing what to do.
We are ready, Intel. Hopefully you are too, soon.