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By 5 July 2010 | Categories: news

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According to Wired, the latest Intel research project will incorporate touch-screens into the kitchen tops of the future. Instead of carrying around other devices one can simply tap your kitchen counter and have menu's, recipes and shopping lists displayed on them.

“There’s nothing absolutely special about the surface, and it doesn’t matter if your hands are dirty,” says Beverly Harrison, a senior research scientist at Intel. “Our algorithm and a camera set-up can create virtual islands everywhere.”
 
Utilizing state-of-the-art 3D object recognition the system can build up a model of almost anything that's placed on it and offer a virtual, touch-screen based menu with parameters based on the object. For instance, putting different food items on the counter, an egg for example, will display a virtual menu that includes recipes for the object in question.
 
“The computer in real time builds a model of the color, shape, texture of the objects and runs it against a database to identify it,” says Harrison. She also revealed that no special items need to be attached to the food item, they simply need to be placed on Intel's magic surface to be scanned.
 
Touch-screen displays in devices like smarphones and tablet computes have soared in popularity in recent years, with consumers resting their thumbs to give their index fingers a workout. So far it's only been applied to small devices, but Intel says this won't be the case for the future.
 
Their dream is for an ordinary counter or coffee table to be able to morph into a touch-screen as soon as you glide your finger over it. On a living room coffee table you might be able to access music and video menu's, while a display on vanity table in the bathroom may help you manage your medication.
 
We recently took a look at flexible touch-screens, but Intel researchers have pursued a different approach. They've created a rig (just bigger than a cellphone) which incorporates two cameras, one to capture the image of the object and the other to capture depth. A pico-projector helps to beam the virtual menus.
 
From there on the software Harrison and her team have written kicks in to help identify the objects accurately and create the virtual menus. If you want your coffee table to return to normal you simply make a wide sweeping gesture and the menu disappears. There's even a virtual drawer that users can pull up to store images and notes.
 
Harrison says the system will work on almost any surface, including glass, granite and wood. It may still be a bit early to include the system in future home improvement projects but it's certainly a novel idea and should make preparing dinner in the future a cinch.
 
Photo: A counter top acts as a touchscreen display.
Priya Ganapati/Wired.com

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