I can't really fully describe Sixth Sense—a system that projects information over the real world, giving you information about it—or its potential in a line. Or at all. You have to, you must watch it:
(If you have the time, you can go through the whole video and Pattie Maes' explanation. If not, go to minute 3:10, where the cool demonstrations begin. There, Pranav Mistry—the MIT student who has implemented Sixth Sense—shows how it works)
Basically, Sixth Sense is a mini-projector coupled with a camera and a mobile phone—which acts as the computer and your connection to the Cloud, all the information stored on the web. Sixth Sense can also obey hand gestures, like in the infamous Minority Report.
However, instead of requiring you to be in front of a big screen like Tom Cruise, Sixth Sense can do its magic—and a lot more—everywhere, even while you are jumping hysteric over Oprah's sofa.
The camera recognises objects around you instantly, with the micro-projector overlaying the information on any surface, including the object itself or your hand. Then, you can access or manipulate the information using your fingers. Need to make a call? Extend your hand on front of the projector and numbers will appear for you to click. Need to know the time? Draw a circle on your wrist and a watch will appear. Want to take a photo? Just make a square with your fingers, highlighting what you want to frame, and the system will make the photo—which you can later organise with the others using your own hands over the air.
But those are just novelty applications. The true power of Sixth Sense lies on its potential to connect the real world with the Internet, and overlaying the information on the world itself. Imagine you are at the supermarket, thinking about what brand of soap is better. Or maybe what wine you should get for tonight's dinner. Just look at objects, hold them on your hands, and Sixth Sense will show you if it's good or bad, or if it fits your preferences or not.
Now take this to every aspect of your everyday life. You can be in a taxi going to the airport, and just by taking out your boarding pass, Sixth Sense will grab real time information about your flight and display it over the ticket. You won't need to do any action. Just hold it in front of you and it will work.
The key here is that Sixth Sense recognises the objects around you, displaying information automatically and letting you access it in any way you want, in the simplest way possible.
Clearly, this has the potential of becoming the ultimate "transparent" user interface for accessing information about everything around us. If they can get rid of the coloured finger caps and it ever goes beyond the initial development phase, that is. But as it is now, it may change the way we interact with the real world and truly give everyone complete awareness of the environment around us.
Or just make a few people look like dorks. It can go either way, really. Whatever it is, I want to try it. [TED]