With Microsoft’s Kinect coming to Xbox 360 in less than a month, many people are looking beyond the gaming arena to see what kind of home automation and theater applications could be achieved with the technology. While the new Xbox 360 dashboard has apps like SkyPlayer, ESPN, and presumably in the near future Netflix, which allow you to browse your media with the wave of a hand, Microsoft’s Surface project, which you may have seen in a whole bunch of TV shows and movies, resembles a flatscreen TV used as a tabletop. Objects can be scanned in, documents opened, and photographs virtually passed from one person to another. The downside is that this experience is really intended for commercial applications, and runs in the neighborhood of $12,000.
Now here comes LightSpace, and this is where you can customize your home theater to an awesome degree. LightSpace analyzes a room with multiple 3D depth cameras just like Kinect, and can then alter the images it’s projecting so that you can wrap them around things in the room. That’s all well and good, but the kick here is that every single item projected can become interactive. Let’s say you’re watching an interactive episode of Star Trek and the Enterprise is being attacked by the Borg. The LCARS panels you’re projecting onto the pillar next to the couch as your Home Theater remote could automatically become Borg technology, and tapping the controls properly could allow you to sabotage the Borg systems along with the crew and help save the ship.
The same things could be done with your lighting and heating system. Throw your floorplan to the main screen and then kill the kitchen light your forgot to turn off with a flick of a finger. Your wife likes it hot, but she’s upstairs. Group the first floor into a cluster and crank that AC up, without touching a single physical item. (Granted, you’ll need a home automation system controller backing all of this up.)
Given that Kinect is hitting shelves at $150, and this conceiveably could run on some pretty simple and inexpensive projectors, the commercial product that emerges from this project could be quite affordable, and even be built in a limited fashion into tomorrow’s cell phones.
Check out the demo video below, and I think you’ll see the potential to bring a whole new dimension to how we interact with our home entertainment systems, except for the first time with no wires, no clutter, and look ma, no hand(held)s.