Lode pointed me to an interesting article on Wired about research done at the Fluid Interfaces group of MIT Media Lab. The article was based on the recent TED Talk by Prof. dr. Pattie Maes (who is a Belgian by the way :-)).

In their prototype, the user carries a wearable projector that projects information on physical surfaces or objects. This is essentially augmented reality but without having to use VR helmets/goggles or other devices (e.g. mobile phones) to view digital annotations. Although there are already systems that use wall-mounted projectors to augment rooms with digital annotations (Jonathan Slenders also looked into this for his Master’s thesis), in this prototype the projector is mobile as it is simply worn around the user’s neck. The device could project useful annotations on physical objects, such as Amazon reviews on books or flight information on boarding passes:

<p> <em>There is embedded content here that you cannot see. Please <a href="http://blog.jozilla.net/?p=239">open the post in a web browser</a> to see this.</em> </p>

This reminds me of the topics that my student Ruben Thys explored for his Master’s thesis (paper, video). Our solution was a bit more clumsy than this one though (it required a mobile device to view information attached to physical objects). I also remember reading a related UIST’06 paper that described multi-user interaction techniques with handheld projectors.

Wearable projectors seem to be a promising approach to provide feedback in ubiquitous computing, and might help to further bridge the physical and virtual worlds.