Nancy D. Lamontagne, Managing Editor
You’ve just finished drinking your favorite soda, but before you recycle the can, imagine that it has a button allowing you to view a music video. Researchers led by Dr. Roel Vertegaal at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, have designed just such a prototype.
Image courtesy of Queens University.
The device simulates a display using an image projected onto a can-shaped object. The research was inspired by Dynabook, a visionary cardboard model of a laptop that Alan Kay created in 1968 after seeing an LCD screen in a laboratory. The Queens University researchers named their prototype Dynacan and use it to study interactions that might be useful for a display on a can.
To project an image onto a can while a user interacts with it, the can shape is modeled in three dimensions and computer vision tracks how it moves; for instance, if someone turns it around. The setup allows a user to interact naturally with the can because the image is corrected in all directions, and computer vision or accelerometers sense interactions.
The researchers eventually plan to move beyond projected images by using flexible organic LED displays on a can, which use very little energy and can show video even when bent. They also plan to use batteries to power the displays initially but are looking into kinetic energy and solar power.