A startup called Ubi Interactive is now selling $150 software that can turn any wall, desk or screen into a 45-inch touchscreen. Just hook up a Microsoft Kinect sensor and a screen or projector, and the display will instantly gain touch-screen capabilities. Ubi's software can even support touchscreens of up to 100 inches, at a cost of $379.
Ubi worked with Microsoft (Fortune 500) engineers at the company's Redmond, Wash., headquarters last year as part of an exclusive , "Kinect Accelerator" program. Ubi was one of 11 startups chosen to develop apps and software that work with the Kinect.
The software-Kinect combo senses when a finger touches a surface, allowing the user to click, drag, drop, scroll, and perform all the expected functions of a touchscreen.
The selling point of Ubi's technology is that touchscreens are useful but incredibly expensive -- particularly large ones used in meeting spaces or in-store displays. But many businesses have projectors or televisions already set up in conference rooms. Those could soon become touchscreens by combining a Kinect, which costs $250, and Ubi's software.
"By making it possible to turn any surface into a touchscreen, we ... reduce the cost and extend the possibilities of enabling interactive displays in places where they were not previously feasible -- such as on walls in public spaces," said Anup Chathoth, Ubi's CEO.
Having a large touchscreen handy will become increasingly important as businesses migrate to Windows 8, Microsoft's touch-based operating system. Microsoft is also developing a wearable projector technology that will allow smartphone users to project and control the screens of their mobile devices on to their hands.
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