Whoever thought the humble projector was making an exit from modern life has been well and truly proved wrong.
Well, that's if Bosch's latest technology actually catches on.
At CES in Las Vegas, Bosch Sensortec unveiled its new Interactive Projection Module (with the sexy name BML100PI) that purports to enrich smart homes with a virtual touchscreen on any surface. The goal, Bosch says, is to turn ordinary shelves into personal assistants.
So how does it work? It's a complete ready-to-use solution for interactive projection that beams up highly flexible virtual touchscreens with a generated laser beam that creates a focus-free image on any surface, that then scans line-by-line to detect any gestures or finger movements.
According to Bosch, there is no calibration or adjustment required for accurate gesture and touch recognition to operate the fully flexible alternative to a static physical screen. What's more, it's tiny – with a footprint of only 47mm x 43mm it's smaller than a credit card.
So you're probably thinking the next question is, why?
Bosch says the BML100PI is tailored to work with smart home device manufacturers. How Bosch sees it working is as ‘smart shelves' that consist of several simultaneous projections on individual shelves – for example, in fridges, cupboards, kitchen cabinets, or wardrobes.
One module is able to provide touchscreen functionality on up to six different surfaces.
An example that Bosch uses is in a wardrobe. A single node can project the weather forecast, the user's individual daily schedule, as well as reminders of upcoming events. The information is processed before appropriate clothing is recommended to match the weather and/or planned activities.
What's more, the created look can then be shared with friends and family via social media. If an item of clothing is missing or in the laundry bin, the smart shelf can then suggest new clothing for the user to order in an online store or it can schedule a date for the laundry service which is then directly synced to the user's calendar. All of this directly from your wardrobe shelves.
"With this Interactive Projection Module any regular shelf can easily be transformed into a personal assistant for the user, greatly enhancing the level of convenience in people's daily lives," says Bosch Sensortec CEO Dr. Stefan Finkbeiner.
“The BML100PI is a compact plug-and-play solution that enables manufacturers of smart home appliances and furniture to create entirely new, exciting use cases. This creates a huge potential for product differentiation for manufacturers.
According to Bosch, there is no limitation to the projection capabilities of the BML100PI as it can work on any type of surface, regardless of whether it is dark, colored, wet, stepped or curved.
And after all that, now for the bad news - while the tech was showed off in Las Vegas, it won't be available until the second quarter of 2020.