A German-based startup has found a way to turn any surface into a touch screen. Ubi is a new technology that utilizes Microsoft’s Kinect camera to track hand movements over a display and input motion commands into existing platforms.

Ubi takes the 3D skeletal tracking data from the Kinect and routes it through its custom software on any Windows computer, monitoring both hand positioning and proximity within the camera area. In demonstrations the Kinect is positioned across from the interactive surface with the user in between.

Like Kinect on the Xbox, the system can recognize multiple inputs so that users can stretch or rotate images using two hands. While Ubi can work on just about any kind of display, the company recommends using a projector so that users can see the direct result of their interaction.

A diagram of the Ubi setup

The biggest strength of the new technology is in its simple implementation. Because Ubi works overtop of any existing display, there’s no need to rework an entire system around a single piece of new equipment. The system is also extremely portable since it doesn’t rely on a particular screen. Business travelers can take their touch screen displays on the road with them by packing their laptop, a Kinect camera, and a projector (if needed).

The team behind Ubi consists of Anup Chathoth, Chao Zhang, and David Hajizadeh. Chathoth and Zhang are both engineers with more than five years of experience in the tech industry. The company was one of 11 chosen to participate in Microsoft’s first ever Kinect accelerator program this spring. Each of the startups chosen were given $20,000 and free office space in Seattle until the accelerator’s demo day in late June.

Ubi envisions its product being used for business, healthcare, education, and public directories/maps. The team already has plans to bring interactivity to advertisements with the virtual touch screen technology.

In a recent demo with Wired, the company showed off virtual touch screen interaction with Google Maps and popular mobile game Angry Birds.

Once it hits the market, Ubi plans to sell the software for around $500, or as a complete system at a currently unspecified price.

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