I think that every technophile has had that dream – turning any surface into a touch screen. It might not be as cool as having a virtual screen come up in front of you – heck, surround you – like in many movies, but having the ability to convert a surface into a touch screen is not something to scoff at, is it? And, guess what? Microsoft has a system that can do just that.

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Microsoft has received more than its fair share of flak, and I am not exempt from doing some bashing now and then, but that company is not all that bad. Now, imagine if you had a bare wall which you could turn into a touch screen? Teachers, presenters, and speakers would have a field day! For shops, turning a table into a touch screen would also bring brownie points with customers. Lots of brownie points. At home, kids can have more interaction using the kitchen table to play.

The possibilities are humongous, aren’t they?

So how does this “turn any surface into a touch screen” thing work?

It involves Kinect sensors, projectors, and the Ubi software created particularly for this purpose. Take a look at the video below to see just how it works.

Impressive and exciting, right? But how much will this setup cost you? Well, count the cost of a Kinect for Windows sensor, a projector, a PC running on Windows, and the Ubi software. They have different packages, ranging from $149 to $1499.

Now, I’m not sure it’s feasible for kids to play on the kitchen table after all!

I do think that it is the start of new, exciting things to come – something that, in the future, will be a household thing. To quote Anup Chathoth of Ubi Software:

At Ubi Interactive, it is our goal to make the world a more interactive place. We want human collaboration and information to be just one finger touch away, no matter where you are. By making it possible to turn any surface into a touch screen, we eliminate the need for screen hardware and thereby 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.

They’re doing a great job of it!

[Image via facegfx]