Mar. 3 - Reading emails, text messages and other information without having to get your mobile phone out of your pocket could soon be possible with technology being developed by researchers at Ulm University in Germany. The team are designing a ''necklace projector'' which will allow users to display digital information on any surface. Jim Drury reports.
Christian Winkler is navigating a new path for smartphone technology. He's developing 'AMP-D' - or Ambient Mobile Pervasive Display - a digital device that projects emails, tweets, and texts onto any flat surface while he walks. All the time his phone remains in his pocket. SOUNDBITE (English) HEAD OF PROJECT, ULM UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE OF MEDIA INFORMATICS, CHRISTIAN WINKLER, SAYING: "The interaction is much quicker and users are much more aware of their environment because information lies around, you can literally stumble over this information and so you're much better connected to the environment, instead of always looking on your phone, especially while you're on the go." A Kinect-style 3D sensor helps the projector continually adjust its focal length, allowing users to change surfaces without having to wait for it to re-focus. Sensors recognise gesture controls, such as hand swipes, so the phone never needs to be handled. Images can even be projected onto user's hands. Winkler admits his initial prototype is ungainly, but says his team are working on shrinking the projector dramatically. SOUNDBITE (English) HEAD OF PROJECT, ULM UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE OF MEDIA INFORMATICS, CHRISTIAN WINKLER, SAYING: "We can assume that maybe in three years we could really have the small device that is wearable as a necklace or to be clipped on the pocket or on a handbag strap." The team at Germany's Ulm University say AMP-D will be particularly useful for navigating while walking. They're presenting the prototype at April's annual computer-human interaction conference in Toronto.