I had to do a bit of a double take when I first saw this; then I decided to do a bit of digging because I thought it was a gag, like the Hendo hoverboard. But apparently, Lenovo has developed a new smartphone called the Smart Cast with a built in laser projector. That in itself doesn’t sound all that astonishing, so I’ll explain why I was skeptical. The Smart Cast is able to project images much like a normal projector system; you just have to point the phone and the image will show up on the wall. But, unlike typical projectors it has something called “surface mode,” which projects an image onto a surface that you can actually use as a touch screen. You can prop the phone up, and type out whatever you’re doing on your table.
To quickly step into science fiction all you have to do is flip the projection cap on the top of the phone and point. To demonstrate how it could be applied Lenovo has provided several suggestions as to how the new tech can be used. Their video demonstrates the projection image working as a keyboard, a piano, and also as the screen for Fruit Ninja. From the video alone there is unfortunately no way of actually being able to tell if the projected touch screens are accurate. The video perhaps serves more as a demonstration to show off what they are supposedly going to be capable of should the concept reach full development. But, apparently there is a little more to it than just an idea. Yahoo Finance says that at the Lenovo Tech World Conference, where the Smart Cast was announced, “noted pianist Lang Lang helped demonstrate the possibilities of Smart Cast with a rendition of The Entertainer played on the virtual keyboard with the full size sheet music displayed from the smartphone’s projector.” So, the keyboard must work to some degree.
As a concept piece there is no news as to when or if the Smart Cast will be released to the public. Unfortunately we are simply going to have to wait. Until then we can only get excited about the idea of a projectable touch screen. Personally, I’d love to see something like this in one of the new smart watches; it’d be great to project a keyboard onto your forearm, rather than trying to type on the tiny things, like your very own imitation Omni tool.