MotionBeam Lets You Control Games With a Projector

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[Photo: Disney Research]
Motion projectors don't exactly have a reputation for being all that cool. In general, they're used for watching documentaries or projecting work. However, the guys behind the Fabricate Yourself Kinect hack--which let you create a mini-figure of yourself out of foam--have come up with a new use for the handheld variety of projectors.

Students at Carnegie Mellon University worked alongside Disney Research as part of a project called MotionBeam. The MotionBeam project combines iPhones with handheld projectors, and turns them into the most unique gaming system we've ever seen.

The iPhones are loaded up with games that have been specifically designed to use the projectors as game-control devices. Players can interact with the projected games by moving the handheld projector up and down, similar to the motions you'd use in an accelerometer-controlled iPhone game. Essentially, it's a projector with the capability of a smartphone. So far, the games are a mix of cute and quirky racing and object-collection games, featuring space-like characters (kind of what you'd expect from Disney).

The aim of MotionBeam is to create a new gaming platform by binging "projected content to physical objects in the environment," according to the project's site. Disney Research and the CMU students also believe that, within a couple of years, mini-projectors will be built into millions of devices, so MotionBeam is a good example of what might be possible.

Although they look cool, these games seem a little rough round the edges to play--as you move the iPhone around, the projected image jumps around the wall, which looks distracting--but imagine the future possibilities. And gaming might be just the beginning: Imagine all the ways this technology could be put to use in the workplace--or on art projects, for that matter.

Check out the video below by the team to find out even more about the thinking behind MotionBeam:

[Karl D.D. Willis]

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