German engineers have developed a new pico projector technology that can allow any surface to be transformed into an interactive display.

The researchers and technicians at Germany’s Technische Universität Darmstadt have spent a number of years developing the technology, dubbed LightBeam, which allows for everyday objects and surfaces to be turned into remote control devices.

The LightBeam system harnesses the capabilities of a pico projector that has been combined with a Microsoft Kinect motion controller, like those used with Xbox 360 consoles, and a depth-sensing camera. The combination of these devices creates a system that provides interactive motion control for projected presentations.

The technology was originally developed to see how users could use physical objects as interactive parts of presentations, but it was soon realised that they could actually be turned into remote controllers. The technology means that items that are being projected onto can control the projected material through being manipulated. In a demonstration of the technology a mug was picked up and twisted and, in doing so, switched the projected material from a Flickr slideshow to a Facebook page.

The technology is due to be showcased to the lucrative American market in May, when it will be a key part of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2012 being held in Texas.