Images from two handheld projectors get interactive

Researchers at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have developed SideBySide, a system that enables animated images from separate handheld projectors to interact with each other on the same surface.

The system, suitable for games, education and a variety of other applications, is self-contained in special handheld devices.

According to a statement, no external cameras or other sensors are required, which enables people to use the projectors to interact with each other anywhere and at anytime.

It is claimed that SideBySide can be used also to exchange contact information, or even share data files.

‘Smartphones have made it possible for us to communicate, play games and retrieve information from the web wherever we might be, but our interaction with the devices remains a largely solitary, single user experience,’ said Karl DD Willis, a PhD candidate in computational design at Carnegie Mellon and a lab associate at Disney Research. ‘Now that handheld projectors have become a reality, we finally have a technology that allows us to create a new way for people to interact in the real world.’

The handheld projectors are hybrid devices that emit visible and infrared light, and contain a camera for monitoring the projected images, a ranging sensor and an inertial measurement unit.

The infrared channel is used to project markers that help the system recognise when the images are moving or overlapping, and to communicate information between the devices.


The researchers say they have developed a number of applications to demonstrate the capabilities of the technology.

Games include Boxing, in which matches are performed without a ring; Cannon, in which players knock a stack of bricks off a platform by firing a cannon ball from one screen to another; and Gorilla, in which one player uses a plane and a net to catch the other player’s gorilla.

They also have developed a 3D viewer, which allows two users to control and explore a 3D model together, and applications for exchanging contact information and transferring files.

A video demonstrating SideBySide can be viewed here.

The SideBySide system overview
The SideBySide system overview