At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Sony unveiled the Xperia Touch, a portable, short throw projector that can turn any flat surface into a 23-inch, high definition touchscreen. First unveiled as an experimental concept at SXSW last year, the device is now expected to hit the market in Europe by Spring 2017, retailing at $1,583 (€1,499)
The Xperia Touch is able to detect users’ gestures and taps through a combination of infrared sensors and a 60 frames per second (fps) camera. The camera turns the beamed image into a virtual screen, allowing users to control it on tables or walls. The touch sensitivity is activated through the infrared sensors, which detect when users are touching the display. In a demonstration video from Verge, the interactive projector’s interface appears to be fast, fluid, and responsive to physical touch.
The Xperia Touch’s ability to project two dimensional images that users can seamlessly interact with sans headsets sets it apart from already available devices like the HoloLens.
The Xperia Touch is essentially an Android tablet that you can project onto any surface. By putting everything — calendar events, weather data, notes, video chats, etc. — in a single, easily accessible digital pinboard that's equipped with multimedia capabilities for videos, app downloads, and web surfing, it can serve as a central, digital hub for its users.
That said, while it’s being positioned as a digital family device, the Xperia Touch could very well have applications outside of entertainment, similar to how augmented-reality devices are already expanding outside of gaming. With its ability to project interactive images and impressive sensor architecture, Sony hopes that it will provide developers with a new and innovative platform to build and create upon. Eventually, it could be used as a tool for education or in industries like design and architecture.