Google Research today revealed a project for transferring mobile content to a remote display, just by using the smartphone camera. In other words, this system lets you project without a projector.

So, what problem is Google trying to solve exactly? Well, the company notes that while the computing power of today’s mobile devices continues to grow at an accelerated rate, they remain small and thus don’t really have the space to spare for input and output bandwidth (when is the last time you saw a popular smartphone with an HDMI out port?).

That’s where Open Project comes in:

Google says it has been looking into how to let mobile users leverage nearby input and output resources for their smartphones. Open Project is an end-to-end framework that allows you to “project” a native mobile application onto an arbitrary display using a smartphone camera.

This is still in a very early stage of course. Nevertheless, Google notes the display can range from a PC or laptop monitor, to a TV connected to the Internet, to a public wall-sized display.

Here’s how Google Research describes the project’s findings so far:

Open Project is an open, scalable, web-based framework for enabling mobile sharing and collaboration. It can turn any computer display projectable instantaneously and without deployment. Developers can add support for Open Project in native mobile apps by simply linking a library, requiring no additional hardware or sensors.

That last part is key: if developers can jump on board with little hassle, then this has a lot of potential of being integrated into Google’s commercial products, such as Android or Chrome OS. Unsurprisingly, the company says its user participants responded “highly positively” to Open Project-enabled apps for mobile sharing and collaboration. We’d love to try it out ourselves.

You can read more about it in the 10-page research paper titled “Open Project: A Lightweight Framework for Remote Sharing of Mobile Applications” (PDF).

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