An Apartment of Projected and Interactive Screens

Ever since looking at TAT’s Future of Screens presentation, I’ve been plotting… plotting to meet the future head-on so-to-speak. And, with my specific living circumstances, I think I might have found a way to do so.

Step 1: The Goal
Basically, what I would like to do is replace the (CRT) PC monitor and TV with a projector and speakers. The reason for doing this is to take advantage (even more) of some of the empty walls in my apartment, reduce the amount of energy that I use for media management and events, and make it a lot easier for myself to move to another area, with my screens remaining consistent.

For the most part, I am already free of a traditional PC life, and so this would extend that, while taking some advantage of the technology that I have (or could barter).

Step 2: The Needs
There are two aspects to any desire spawned by a video like this: needs and desires. Tackling my needs areas should be easiest as it simply requires two things: projector and speakers.

The projector needs to have inputs for my DVD player (if not having one built-in), PC (VGA) input, and an additional S-Video (composite) input for my mobile. While I’d love for the mobile to be able to connect wirelessly, or at least serve as a remote so that I could swap between inputs, that’s not a need, nor that seems to be on the market right now.

The other need is that of speakers. While it’s all well and good that I’m trimming things out, to be able to use wired and/or wireless speakers with the projector would just mean that a bro could hear what’s coming out of these devices.

Step 3: The Desires
No dream is complete without desires. And while I admit that some of my desires are a bit out there, given what we see in the Future of Screens Video, I would not think that at some point in that future that it would be realistic.

The first desire is that of being able to control the projector (menu, switching inputs, etc.) via my mobile device. Or, at the very least, to be able to connect a Bluetooth dongle to it so that it could be controlled by another mobile device or remote. I have a Bluetooth keyboard and joystick, and it would make sense for either of these to be able to work for this function over an infrared remote.

The next desire is nearly the same as the last, but has more to do with what my mobile device can do. I’d like the projector to be able to use gesture-based movements for controlling some of the features. In addition, I’d like the UI of my mobile device to also respond to said gestures, but using the front-facing camera to capture those gestures, and translate them into what I see on-screen. Now, I’m not talking going totally the route of Minority Report, but I would like to be able to do things such as switch to another application, view a alert/prompt, and (pan) navigate screens.

It would be nice if the projector could play as a menu/display for all UPnP devices, that way I could leverage the content that’s on the wireless and wired appliances equally, something like the projector playing a router-terminal.

Lastly, I would like the projector to have HDMI input, because at some point I’d update my mobile and it would have that ability.

Step 4: The Issues
Par the course when I have these ideas, I take a bit of time to think about the implications and issues that I’d run into. Let’s just say that there’s a list of em’.

Projectors have lenses. Lenses are expensive. Don’t want to put it in a place to get easily knocked over, or that’s the end of big screened interactions.

This makes the point as well that projectors can be very fragile. And would all of those devices connecting to it.

The cost of a projector is an issue for me right now; but if it weren’t I’d be looking at administrative costs of setup and management (which would bug me a bit).

No current mobile device offers an ability to project to a larger screen, while adapting its user interface (UI) to the responds of such a size. This would bug me, but again, I do have input devices.

My mobile device already gets pushed in respect to battery life, there’d need to be a better solution to charging that plugging it in even if that plug is right beside the projector. Induction charging would be cool here.

Managing the PC would be a sticky, but I’m mainly worried just about accessing content there, not so much in producing it (except for business cards and book formatting). I’d like a mobile app to be a solution here – and not something on an iPad.

Step 5: Ideal Moments
Ideal moments are those things that don’t care about cost, implications, or much anything else. It would be the best scenario. In a lot of respects, its the better conceptualization of the vision than what I’ve already explained, as its what the goal looks like in practice.

I come into my apartment; sit the mobile on a shelving unit near the projector. The projector awakes and wirelessly connects to my mobile. The wall this is projected on goes from being mainly empty with two pictures, a blank space, and an empty whiteboard, to a live screen. The blank space shows my calendar and call log, along with upcoming programs that I could watch online. The whiteboard would show tasks that need to get done, possibly shared with an online service, or with the various part-time gigs that I do.

As I sit down on my sofa, I wave my hand and the shadow on the screen notices that I select the TV program, I want to catch up with the FIBA World Championship games that I missed. It loads up ESPN3 and after a gesture and voice-based security login (because my device is already a validated device), I’m watching the game. During the game SMS and calls come in, but all are routed to being ignored, with the messages becoming a sticky on the whiteboard besides the main viewing.

I get up from the living room to prepare for bed and as I enter my room, I pick up my iPad or Internet Tablet. Because these are also connected to the Wi-Fi hotspot that my mobile creates, I’m prompted if I would like to continue watching the game. I hit the button that says “no, just show highlights” and I’m taken to ESPN’s, SI’s, and Foxsport’s recaps and commentaries of the games.

I decide that I’m done for the night, and being that it is my normal bed time, I hear my mobile in the other room prompting me, and another message on the screen asks if I would like to set my alarm for tomorrow morning. I respond yes, and within 30min, my mobile and all other devices are automatically placed on silent (with only a white-listed group of persons able to get through to me during the night).

When I awake, I make my way to the living room to start working (this is my life now, so its not unrealistic at all). I pick up my Bluetooth keyboard and open Google Reader, Gravity, and Active Notes. My goal is to pen a few posts for MMM, and have a few thoughts in the back pocket before getting out the door. I’m looking at the projected screen as I type, with the SMS/VMs from the previous night still sitting in the box unchecked. A gesture shadow to the items on the whiteboard expands them into main view, and I use the keyboard to respond accordingly.

An Apartment of Screens
To me, this is something that’s nearly possible. It expands a bit on the concepts raised in TAT’s video, but compartmentalizes things to just the living space. I really like that you can be productive across connected screens, but doing what we can to leverage the technology that we have, combined with some ingenious thinking, should merit a few more possibilities.

If the folks at TAT want to take a shot at sketching/story-boarding/creating this one, be my guest. As for me, I’m considering my energy usage, and the financial viability of purchasing a projector to start working on building this environment. At the very least, I’ll get a better idea of just how possible it is to have that connected experience now rather than in three years time – when everyone else gets it pre-installed and with shiny buttons.

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