A projector has been used to develop a system that can turn just about any surface into a touchscreen.

The OmniTouch device has been created by researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft Research.

It revolves around a depth-sensing camera that tracks the movement of a person's finger. By combining this with a camera and a laser pico projector, worn on the user's shoulder, the system is capable of 'knowing' what and where the individual is touching.

This means that it is possible to type on a keyboard, interact with drawing applications or even dial a phone number, for example. There is no need to specially calibrate the device and, according to its developers, people will be able to use it without any special training.

At the moment, the system is just a working concept. One of the current problems is its size, but it is expected to be scaled down to fit into something no bigger than a matchbox eventually, which would make the system rather more functional in reality.

The possibilities that the technology opens up are inspiring and could bring a new use for projectors to the market sometime soon.