Next-Gen 'Sixth Sense' Device Created at MIT

The system can be used for many applications

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taken it upon themselves to create a low-cost high-tech device that will offer users the possibility to interact with each object they come across in real-life. That is to say, when picking up a box of cereals, information could be projected on your hand or on a piece of paper that will let you know if the brand is good, or what type of ingredients the product contains. Every flat surface you find, including walls, table tops and other such things, may become an instant touchscreen, from which you could connect to the Internet and get valuable information.

The system is, not surprisingly, made up almost entirely of items that can be bought from stores, as the MIT team has very little proprietary components in the new sixth sense device. Basically, the system consists of a good web camera, a battery-powered projector, as well as a mobile phone, preferably with access to the Internet. This basic set-up will allow users to perform such operations as to check for the time by drawing a circle on their wrist, where the projector will display it.

"Other than letting some of you live out your fantasy of looking as cool as Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report,' it can really let you connect as a sixth sense device with whatever is in front of you. You can use any surface, including your hand if nothing else is available, and interact with the data. It is very much a work in progress. Maybe in ten years we will be here with the ultimate sixth-sense brain implant," Patty Maes, a researcher at MIT and a member of the project development team, explains.

There are numerous other applications this apparatus could be used for, other than assessing the quality of food. It could be employed as a tourist guide, with people being able to go online and ask for information about the objectives they are visiting. In addition, users could check for the status of their flight, by simply looking at the ticket. The camera will record the info, and will search online for an answer to the most likely questions. This could spare individuals a trip to the airport, if the flight is delayed or canceled.

The new system was unveiled on Wednesday, during a Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference, held in Southern California. The team estimates that the basic price for the sixth sense device could be as little as $300, even though it's so high-tech that a person could wear it as jewelry.

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