Do you have a lamp with a standard-size lightbulb socket? If so, you’ve already got one piece of the required gear for turning your desk—or fridge, wall, or pretty much any other surface—into an augmented-reality display that you can interact with much as you do with the screen of a smartphone.
That’s the premise behind a project from researchers in the Future Interfaces Group at Carnegie Mellon University. Called Desktopography, it uses a small projector, a depth sensor, and a computer to project images onto surfaces; the projections can move around to stay out of the way of objects that are also on the surface. It screws into a lightbulb socket, and the latest prototype uses the lamp for power, says Robert Xiao, a graduate student who leads the project.