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Palm-sized mini PC projects display, uses IR for touch

Jul 30, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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TouchPico is prepping an Android 4.2 mini-PC that doubles as a pico-projector and approximates touch input via an infrared stylus and camera.

It’s not enough to offer just another straight-ahead pico projector these days. Sprint’s recent, ZTE-built LivePro, for example, doubles as a mobile hotspot and features an embedded display, and Promate’s LumiTab is also a tablet. Now a startup called TouchPico offers a similarly Android-based TouchPico device that adds touch input to projected images.



TouchPico
(click image to enlarge)

The TouchPico mini-PC ships with a stylus that sends out infrared signals that are tracked by a camera located next to the TouchPico’s projector lens. The stylus input is said to operate at 40 frames per second. Android apps require no modification to offer touch input, including dragging and drawing, although it would appear that multi-touch gestures are unavailable.


TouchPico stylus

TouchPico has surpassed its Indiegogo funding, with 28 days remaining. Units are still available for $329, a discount from the eventual retail price of $499. Volume discounts and developer units are also available, and the products ship Oct. 15.

The TouchPico is designed for mobile presentations, education, multi-user brainstorming, video entertainment, and multiplayer gaming of the lower-latency Angry Birds variety. You can stream “any application” from the WiFi Direct enabled TouchPico and control it via a mobile app. You can also stream apps from a PC or Mac and control them via a mouse, says the company.



TouchPico from the back (left) and in a pocket
(click images to enlarge)

TouchPico has yet to provide detailed specs, but the TouchPico is said to be about the size of a Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone, and is only “slightly heavier.” GigaOM says the device runs Android on a “Rocketchip 1GHz processor,” which we imagine is actually a Rockchip processor. SlashGear, meanwhile, says it’s a dual-core processor.

The device can project an 80-inch display on any flat surface. If the projector’s 854 x 480-pixel, 80-lumens image doesn’t do it for you, you can always watch your content via an HDMI-connected monitor. The device offers wireless mouse support, and integrates an SD slot, audio output, and a battery. SlashGear also notes the device’s AV/VGA port and USB OTG port, and dings the device for lacking Bluetooth support and offering only 45-minute battery life.



TouchPico from the left and right
(click images to enlarge)

Based on a demo, GigaOM says the TouchPico pen has “negligible” latency and “showed little lag.” According to TechCrunch, Fruit Ninja play showed fine performance, but a PowerPoint presentation was “a bit too slow.” In addition, low-light scenes in movies “didn’t show up very well,” says TechCrunch.

According to the SlashGear hands-on, the stylus interaction works well, and includes an auto-calibration system that keeps the touch and projection layers synchronized even when the projector is moved closer to or farther from the surface or is projecting at an angle. However, drawing on the projected image requires that you keep your hand and body out of the way of the tracking camera in order to achieve good quality, says the story. SlashGear also notes that the stock Android 4.2 build lacks Google Play or other services, although the company is working on a licensing deal.




TouchPico on YouTube

 
Further information

The TouchPico mini-PC is available for $329 on Indiegogo, with volume discounts and developer units available. Products are said to ship by Oct. 15. The eventual retail price will be $499. More information may be found at TouchPico Indiegogo page. Future plans call for a TouchPico Pro model with 400 lumen brightness and a content management system.
 

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