Making ANYTHING a Touch Screen

Wearable Technology Today

It seems that everywhere you look recently, there’s an article about the future of wearable technology and how it will change the way we merge our real and digital worlds. Already there are digital watches from groups like Pebble that integrate into your iPhone and Android devices, and there are rumors of an Apple iWatch (click here Engadget’s Article on Apple’s Patent).  Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit have all released wearable digital bracelets that monitor and track your every move throughout the day to analyze exercise, eating and sleeping.  And of course Google has generated the most press with the first glimpses of Google Glass due out to the public in 2014 which literally layers online data into your immediate line of sight. All of these products are really exciting and hold a lot of promise for everyday applications – but since they are “wearable,” the displays are really small.

Wearable Technology Tomorrow

Check out this video on wearable projectors on technology being developed in Microsoft’s Kinect Accelerator:  http://cnnmon.ie/10nyujo. While this video is really discussing the benefits of a wearable projector from a consumer perspective, there could be great commercial applications as well. Zero-In develops a lot of touch-screen applications on large-format displays and standalone kiosks for clients in retail environments – and as mentioned in the video, touch-display technology, although much more affordable than in the past, is still expensive (especially when it’s large).  Products like Microsoft’s Kinect when integrated into wearable technology offer a lot of promise in solving this issue by making any surface into a touch screen. This would have many implications for our industry, since digital signage software could theoretically be embedded into these products, allowing marketing departments to centrally distribute digital collateral to salespeople throughout their stores.  Now when a customer approaches a salesperson about an item they are interested in, the salesperson could immediately pull up that touch interface anywhere without walking over to a touch display or kiosk. This would be much less expensive than distributing a tablet to every staff member.  Of course you could build similar systems for liaisons on college campuses, in shopping centers or at amusement parks who are tasked with answering customer way-finding questions. This “project backpack” in the Microsoft video is obviously not very practical and is still far from anything that would be usable, but it certainly inspires some curiosity on what will be possible in the future once this technology is integrated into something like a wearable watch, bracelet or glasses.  

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