Ubi and Kinect turn any tables and walls into touchscreens

Ubi and Kinect turn any tables and walls into touchscreens

Summary: Startup Ubi has opened up sales for its software that can convert any surface into a touchscreen.

TOPICS: Windows 8

The standard projector and whiteboard setup can be made a lot more interactive with a new Windows 8 application that allows Kinect for Windows, in tandem with a projector, to turn any surface into a touch display.

Ubi, a Seattle-based startup which joined Microsoft's Kinect Accelerator programme, has opened up orders for the app, which takes the Windows 8 touch interface beyond device displays and puts it on tables and walls.

Until now, Ubi had been testing its technology in a closed trials with Microsoft and Intel, which are using them in conference rooms, along with 48 other organisation, including US construction outfit, The Walsh Group, and California Polytechnic State University.

Turning almost any surface into a touchscreen requires a Windows 8 PC, the Kinect for Windows sensor, and a projector. So long as an app is made for touch on Windows 8, it can be used with Ubi.

To convert a table into a touch display, the Kinect sensor would face downwards from the ceiling. On a wall, the Kinect sensor needs be placed between one to two metres from the surface. Ubi's "vision engine" detects a person's finger or hand in relation to the surface.   

Ubi pricing starts at $149 for its basic edition that offers one simultaneous touch point and supports displays up to 45 inches. From there, the professional version that supports 100 inch display and one touch point costs $379. The business edition supports two touch and costs $799, while an enterprise version that supports 20 touch points costs $1,499.

Assuming the organisation already has a projector and the cost of a Kinect is around $250, turning any surface into a touch display can be done for around $400.

Ubi's pitch to customers is that they don't need to buy a large touch display to improve interactive communications and besides conference rooms, the company points to uses in lecture halls, home gaming and retail displays.

"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,” Anup Chathoth co-Founder and CEO of Ubi Interactive wrote in a blogpost

Topic: Windows 8

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Already Have One, Sort Of

    I have used a whiteboard with touch pens for several years. They really do make presentations more interactive. The pens are OK but occasionally they disappear. I look forward to trying one of these.
  • I saw this on the news the other day

    This will make presentations a LOT easier, and will probably kill the nascent large touch monitor business, I am thinking.
  • I would love to have one. That way I could create a portable

    interactive wall for my presentations.
    Ram U
  • Good but there are some hurdles

    I work for a company that makes large touch screen devices, think 60-80 inches so my opinion is a little biased.

    I love the the idea but a standard projector would be difficult to use. To "touch" the image you would need to be between the projector and the wall thus casting a shadow on your presentation. This can get in the way of the presentation and I personally find it a little annoying. I know that there are short throw projectors but they are more expensive than traditional ones and most places I have been don't have them.

    The other issue is that most projectors are not very bright. This forces you to close blinds and turn off lights. I have found that when using a large LCD monitor for a presentation it is easier to keep people engage.

    Still for the right market I think this will be a cool application.

  • Competition for this!

    I created a product like this last year, its only $59.99 but supports 128 touch points, works with Kinect or OpenNI devices and supports over 200″ screens
  • Old news

    The kinect has been used to implement touchscreens since it came out almost 3 years ago. Here's a vid of my approach which positions the kinect planar to the viewing surface. This is a little trickier to setup but has the advantage of not having the kinect's view getting blocked by the user's body. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwYfVjoTQXQ
    Yannis Grv