(Phys.org)—Are we moving closer to a computer age where "touchscreen" is in the room, but it is the counter, desktop, wall, our new digital work areas? Are we moving into a new form factor called Anywhere? Do we understand how locked up we are in on-screen prisons, and that options will come? The drive for options is strong at the MIT Media Lab, where its Fluid Interfaces Group has been working on some AR options, the "Augmented Product Counter" and the "LuminAR." The latter is a bulb that makes any surface a touchscreen. You can even use it to replace the bulb in a desk lamp with the MIT group's "bulb" to project images onto a surface. The LuminAR bulb is small enough to fit a standard light fixture.
The LuminAR team, Natan Linder, Pattie Maes and Rony Kubat, described what they have done as redefining the traditional incandescent bulb and desk lamp as a new category of "robotic, digital information devices." This will be one of the new looks in AR interfaces. The LuminAR lamp system looks similar to a conventional desk lamp, but its arm is a robotic arm with four degrees of freedom. The arm terminates in a lampshade with Edison socket. Each DOF has a motor, positional and torque sensors, motor control and power circuitry. The arm is designed to interface with the LuminAR bulb. The "bulb," which fits into a lightbulb socket, combines a Pico-projector, camera, and wireless computer and can make any surface interactive. The team uses the special spelling "LuminAR" to suggest its place in the group's other Augmented Reality initiatives.