At SXSW this week, Sony’s Future Lab R&D division showed off a prototype of its interactive table that allows users to control light projections by simply touching them, reports The Verge. The prototype, called simply the "Interactive Tabletop," is a projector that uses depth and motion tracking sensors to know where a person’s hands are in relation to the light being projected onto a flat surface. It then uses the data from those sensors to move the projected light based on the movements of the user’s hands.
The Interactive Tabletop can also recognize various objects that are placed on a flat surface. In the demo at SXSW, the Interactive Tabletop recognized when a copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was placed on the table. Light projection of its characters then sprang to life from the projector, and those projections could then be dragged around the tablet with a user’s finger.
As The Verge notes, Sony’s Interactive Tabletop isn’t something the company has said it plans to commercialize at this time. It’s simply a prototype showing what is possible. Indeed, right now the commercial uses for such a device seem limited beyond simple gaming or entertainment uses. However, the concept does bode well for a future where we can interact with light-projected holograms as easily as we interact with physical objects today.