A converted warehouse in Austin serves as the home to Sony’s “Wow Factory,” at SXWX a place where members of the company’s Future Lab program have assembled a lineup of the wackiest and coolest hardware ideas. Future Lab is a research and development initiative that pushes employees at Sony to focus on creativity and human interaction.
The resulting product pair can transform any flat surface into a touchscreen through projection, but also offers the ability to take any real world item (a model of a building, for example) and add a dimension of augmented reality to it. This could include paper books with the ability to pull out character bios or research words, like you can with a touchscreen. In one demo, a table surface was turned into a piano with the keys being made of light.
Two products, one soon-to-be for consumers, and the other a prototype, make this experience possible. One is a projector which Sony brought to SXSW last year. It sits above a table, and does 3D tracking of hand movements, depth sensing, and objects. It knows when your hand is touching an object, or when there is a pointed finger on the surface of the table.
The second projector, named Xperia Touch was newly introduced at SXSW. It is due for release in the Spring. Instead of sitting overhead, this piece of technology is a small, modem-sized box that rests on an angled surface. The projector and sensor combination tracks your hands as they play over a projection of a musical instrument, letting you make sounds.
It allowed high level interactions, such as drawing circles to create drums that can be struck with hand taps. The projectors run Android software, letting traditional touchscreen command methods work.