Home Augmented Reality Meet the Lightbulb that Possesses Magical Powers

Meet the Lightbulb that Possesses Magical Powers

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have developed a lightbulb that can turn your desk into a touchscreen.


Ever imagined taking up your favorite apps on a much wider display instead of your smartphone’s tiny screen whilst still managing to work in the way you do on your smartphone? No more being trapped on small screens as the researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a prototype of a device that can seamlessly convert your desk or for that matter any hard surface into an interactive touchscreen interface.


They call it ‘Desktopography’. With the help of an overhead projector and a depth sensor, this device can do magical things, making virtual objects do the real things. The PhD student Robert Xiao will present the paper at the Symposium on Engineering Interactive Computing Systems in Lisbon, Portugal uncovering the details about his newly developed prototype.

turn your desk into a touchscreen

The gestures made by the user on the desk can be read and recognized by the depth sensor while the camera-equipped projector can display apps and pages at the flick of the wrist.

A similar technology was presented by Sony in February last year, but Xiao’s prototype is different and advanced than just offering an interactive display to work with. The virtual interface can be moved around the desk, resized, rotated and minimized ergonomically.

Additionally, it can dock the virtual apps to the side of a physical object, which moves along the physical entity without too much fuss. Also, it’s smart enough to reposition itself if anything comes in the way of projection and in order to make it work, a flat surface isn’t a requisite as it can work on non-flat surfaces too.


It has been cleverly designed with a bulb screw connector at one end which enables you to install it quickly and in absolutely no time. It’s just like replacing a lightbulb. You might be thinking that all your smartphone’s battery will be drained out in a matter of minutes due to this lightbulb at work, but according to Robert Xiao, the Desktopography hardware draws all its power from the bulb socket restoring your smartphone’s battery.

You can install multiple devices in your home or office and can carry your apps/work along with you on different desks or non-flat surfaces like bed or couch. It all sounds like a fictional movie scene but the clever blend of multiple technologies and brilliance of Robert Xiao has brought it to life. And it won’t come as a surprise if you install this lightbulb over your desk in the coming years.