Researchers at Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory, the University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Electron Device have developed a high-speed projector system that can track and flawlessly match the complex movements of whatever surface it’s projecting on.

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Running at 1,000 frames per second, the projector is matched with a camera running at the same frame rate so that it can constantly keep track of how a given surface is moving and automatically adjust the projected image with the proper distortion so that it looks like it’s perfectly locked onto its surface.

Illustration for article titled This 1,000 FPS Projector Perfectly Matches the Movements of Any Surface
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But instead of designing a special rig to move a heavy projector around at high speeds, the researchers actually modified existing projection technologies to realize their custom system on a smaller scale.

Inside many projectors you’ll find a tiny Texas Instruments DLP chip that’s covered in thousands of even tinier mirrors that individually move at high speed to reflect red, green, or blue light towards a screen. When all working in unison the tiny mirrors end up producing a moving full color image on screen, but in this case the DLP chips have been modified to instead move and warp the entire image.

In its current form, the high-speed projection system is limited to just an 8-bit color scale—that’s only 256 shades—and a resolution of 1,024 x 768. But as the custom technology is further refined, those specs could eventually see a boost in resolution and color.

So one day, instead of keeping a smartphone in your pocket, a virtual display could simply be projected onto your open hand and down your arm. And while the original version of Google Glass required a prism sitting in front of your eye for its display, future versions could use any surface around you as a screen. Whether you’re staring at a wall—or looking at the floor while riding a bumpy bus on the way to work.

[YouTube via Nikkei Technology]

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