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New concept turns pizza boxes, bananas into computers

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have come up with a way to turn everyday objects into computing devices. Banana phone anyone?

The University of Tokyo's invoked computing concept turns everyday objects into electronic devices.
Ishikawa Oku Labratory

Though you might be obsessing over the next MacBook Air or the latest and greatest Android smartphone, your future laptop or mobile device might already be lying around your house.

Researchers at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo have come up with a concept called "invoked computing" that turns everyday objects into computer interfaces and communication devices using a ubiquitous augmented-reality system.

The concept is based on the idea that technology should learn our behavior and respond to us, instead of the other way around. As such, with invoked computing, one would just need to mimic a certain task and the computer should recognize the gesture and turn any object into a usable electronic device.

In the video below, lead researcher Alexis Zerroug explains how invoked computing can be used to turn a pizza box into a laptop. Video and audio is projected onto the lid of the box, and the user can control volume by sliding his/her finger on the projected control. In another example, a high-speed camera and parametric speaker array are used to turn a banana into a phone.

Zerroug and team won the grand prize at the Laval Virtual 2011 conference in France for their invoked computing concept. In the future, the group hopes to broaden the range of recognized gestures and objects, with the ultimate goal of creating a ubiquitous augmented reality system that understands our wants and needs.

Personally, I like the idea behind the project, but I'm not sure I'm ready to trade in my smartphone for a banana phone just yet. What do you guys think?

(Via Core 77)