Oct 202011

Now you have an excuse to touch everything.

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft Research have created OmniTouch, a wearable system that turns walls, arms, hands, table tops, paper, and just about everything else into interactive touch surfaces.

What makes it all work is a depth-sensing camera that tracks finger movements. The system includes the camera and a laser pico-projector—which looks like a Microsoft Kinect that is worn on the user’s shoulder. The projector displays numbers, letters, or any other graphic on a surface for you to interact with. You can dial a phone number, type on a keyboard, and even interact with drawing apps or map projections on your hand or a piece of paper. OmniTouch is also smart enough to distinguish between a finger that has clicked on a selection and one that is just hovering. It also boasts that no calibration and no special training are needed to operate the device.

I can imagine this technology being helpful for people who have visual or motor skill limitations that make using a smartphone difficult. Despite the growing size of smartphone screens, some people still have some difficulty in using them. With the OmniTouch, people would have a larger area with which they could interact with their devices instead of just being confined to a small 4-inch screen.

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