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MIT Develops Device That Offers ‘Sixth Sense’

February 5, 2009

A portable “sixth sense” device powered by commercial products that can channel Internet information into daily routines has been developed by U.S. university researchers.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists have created a device that can turn any surface into a touch-screen for computer, controlled by simple hand gestures.

The device can even allow a user to take a photograph of a scene with their hands, or project a watch face with the proper time on a wrist when he or she makes a circle there with their finger.

The scientists from MIT cobbled a Web camera, a battery-powered projector and a mobile telephone into a gadget that can be worn like jewelry.  Signals from the camera and projector are relayed to phones with Internet connections.

“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,” said MIT researcher Patty Maes.

At a Technology Entertainment Design Conference stage in Southern California Wednesday, Maes unveiled the futuristic device made from the store-bought components costing about $300.

The gadget can recognize items on store shelves, then retrieve and project information about products or even provide data with other choices that are prone to the users tastes.

It also can look at an airplane ticket and let him or her know whether their flight is on time, or even see books in a book store and project reviews or author information from the Internet onto blank pages.

“You can use any surface, including your hand if nothing else is available, and interact with the data,” Maes said.

“It is very much a work in progress. Maybe in ten years we will be here with the ultimate sixth-sense brain implant.”

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