If you’re like most people, your desk is probably cluttered with a bunch of screens, keyboards, other paraphernalia, and maybe the assorted beverage. There’s barely enough room for your hands, let alone all the things you need for your daily work. If only there was a way to make all that clutter disappear when you’re not using it, and reappear on command when you need it again.
A group of researchers at Carnegie Mellon have been working on solving this problem by building a device that creates virtual interactive displays on any desktop, using nothing more than an overhead projector and a depth sensor. The researchers call the device “Desktopography.”
The depth sensor can recognize gestures you make on the surface of the desk, and the projector can display all sorts of helpful apps and pages at the flick of the wrist. You can then move those virtual objects around, resize them, and even attach them to physical objects on your desk.
The idea of Desktopography is to create a system that can handle both virtual and physical objects in the same space, something most similar systems lack. Real-world desks are messy and filled with things, and any virtual system will have to be able to dodge and work around those objects.
The Carnegie team created a prototype version of Desktopography which they built into a standard lamp. Desktopography’s projector and depth sensor are combined into a single device which fits into a lightbulb socket. It might be a while until something like this is available to buy, but start thinking about installing a lamp above your desk just in case.