WorldKit: The projector That Turns Ordinary Surfaces Into A Touchscreen

WorldKit Projector That Can Turn Ordinary Surfaces Into A Touchscreen

WorldKit, developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, is designed to use any and every surface as a touchscreen. The WorldKit system uses a camera and projector to transform any surface into a touchscreen. In addition the screen can be moved to suit the user.

The research team behind WorldKit is trying to transform all of your surroundings into touchscreens, equipping walls, tables, and couches with interactive, intuitive controls. But the team wants to do so without installing oversized iPads into every surface in your home, which could easily run up a six-figure price tag.

A Demonstration of  WorldKit

Demonstration Of Worldkit To Create A Radial Dial

Robert Xiao, a PhD candidate at Carnegie Mellon and lead researcher on the project, explained that WorldKit uses a depth camera to sense where flat surfaces are in your environment. “We allow a user to basically select a surface on which they can ‘paint’ an interactive object, like a button or sensor,” Xiao said.

Robert Xiao


WorldKit works by pairing a depth-sensing camera lens, such as the one that the Kinect uses, with a projector lens. Then, programmers write short scripts on a MacBook Pro using Java to tell the depth camera how to react when someone makes certain gestures in front of it. The depth camera interprets the gestures and then tells the projector to react by projecting certain interfaces. For instance, if someone makes a circular gesture, the system can interpret that by projecting a dial where the gesture was made. Then, when someone “adjusts” the dial by gesturing in front of it, the system can adjust a volume control elsewhere.

Xiao and Harrison expressed hope that one day, once WorldKit reaches the consumer realm, there might be an online forum where people can upload and download programming scripts (much like apps) in order to make their WorldKit system perform certain tasks.

Chris Harrison

The possibilities for WorldKit, as you might imagine, are limitless. So far, Harrison and Xiao’s ideas have included an away-from-office status button – the virtual version of a post-it note – and a set of digital TV controls. “You won’t ever have to find your remote again,” Xiao said.



Like true academics, Xiao and Harrison agreed on one of the future applications they would most like to see from WorldKit in the days to come: “A digital whiteboard,” they chimed simultaneously. Why? Unlike a traditional board, a digital whiteboard would allow computerized collaboration in real-time.

In the future, users should be able to design their own interfaces with WorldKit. The system currently allows for things like buttons, multitouch drawing (akin to a whiteboard), and counting the number of object within an interaction “bubble.” The existing prototype still has limited resolution and input dimensions, but hardware advances and future research could allow voice commands or even interaction in free space rather than on surfaces. 


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Write by: RC - Monday, July 8, 2013

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