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Far Out Tech

This New Software Lets You Turn Any Surface Into a Touch Screen

This New Software Lets You Turn Any Surface Into a Touch Screen
Image credit: Windows

Far Out Tech

It seems like every other day we read about some far-out, new technology that makes us scratch our heads and say, "What the heck?" In this series, we'll take a look at all types of crazy new gadgets, apps and other technologies -- and the entrepreneurs dreaming them up.

Pretty soon, just about anybody will be able to swipe panels of information across huge screens just like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

Thanks to new software developed by Microsoft and Seattle-based startup Ubi Interactive, users can now literally project their screen onto any surface. But here's what's really cool: To control it you simply tap on the projected image.

Using Microsoft's motion-sensing Kinect, the futuristic technology works on walls, tables and panes of glass. It could help stores display interactive product information after hours, teachers create interactive lessons and architects as they turn a vision into reality.

Best of all, the technology already has the clunkiness worked out of it and can respond appropriately to nuanced gestures, like a swipe, versus a click, for example. That means zooming in and out of maps, flipping through photos and playing Fruit Ninja in super-sized mode should pose no problems.

"We want human collaboration and information to be just one finger touch away, no matter where you are," Ubi co-founder and chief executive Anup Chatoth wrote in a blog post. "By making it possible to turn any surface into a touch screen, we eliminate the need for screen hardware and thereby reduce the cost and extend the possibilities of enabling interactive displays in places where they were not previously feasible -- such as on walls in public spaces."

This week the software went on sale, but the incredible accomplishment first came to light in May 2012, after a demonstration at Microsoft headquarters in Washington. Since then, the companies have worked with small- and medium-size businesses, as well as some larger Fortune 500 firms, to put the technology into their conference rooms.

To get the huge tablet started, many users will simply need to run the software with hardware they already own. Simply run the program on a computer attached to a projector and the Windows Kinect sensor. The software itself ranges in price from $149 to $1499. A Kinect sensor can be purchased for about $250.

What crazy apps and gadgets have you come across lately? Let us know by emailing us at FarOutTech@entrepreneur.com or by telling us in the comments below.

Benjamin Kabin is a Brooklyn-based technology journalist who specializes in security, startups, venture capital and social media.

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