A prototype of a handheld projector created virtual characters that interacted with the real world at the recent Virtual Reality 2010 meeting in Waltham, MA. During the presentation, the device, called Twinkle, created a cartoon fairy that ran and bounced along paintings on a wall and the surface of a bottle.
The animated graphics are capable of responding to patterns, shapes, or colors, as well as three-dimensional objects such as a person's hand. The projector illuminates a scene, a camera tracks key elements such as a line drawn on a wall, and an accelerometer assists in sensing its motion and position. Software matches the pixels detected by the camera with the animation, and makes corrections in the angle of projection and distance from the surface.
The University of Tokyo's Takumi Yoshida says the device could be added to a cell phone. Yoshida's team also envisions having animated graphics from multiple projectors interact.
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