Window To The World

Some technology concepts just make sense the second you see them. This concept tablet ultra-connected device by Tokyo resident Mac Funamizu, has me wishing for tomorrow today. Though he has not named it as of yet, I will drink the potion and call it “The Looking Glass.” The idea is simple, by incorporating a camera/scanner, GPS and internet connectivity, the world is literally at your finger tips. Just frame anything you desire behind the glass window, from a building, to a car or piece of art and the image will be analyzed and searched on any number of sites like wikipedia, google or google earth. Want to know about a word in a book or magazine? Simply frame it up and touch the word. Instant access to any number of learning aids eg. dictionary, thesaurus or reference databases will have you clued in in seconds.
Check out how the designer uses it to identify a particular floor of a building by simply clicking on it. Frame up a restaurant and get its menu or make a reservation… seriously folks, this idea has so many legs it needs to be fast tracked asap.

Designer: Mac Funamizu


  • MF'08 says:

    in my opinion. impossible… toooo complex.. 🙂

  • -F. says:

    Brilliant idea, I’d buy it immediately.

  • UltimateQuiz says:

    It’s one of the best inventions I have ever seen. 😀

    It’s just… Well… Awesome!

  • Evernerve says:

    Looks unbelievable. How can it recognize an image? The first thing that came to my mind is Microsoft’s Photosynth.

  • MF'08 says:

    in my opinion. impossible… toooo complex.. 🙂

  • Cranberry says:

    I imagine that soon enough this sort of technology will be built into a pair of glasses or contact lenses – relieving us of the agony of having to hold that thing up all the time!

  • Ahmed Alzayani says:

    why not, all you need is a GPS + 2MP+ camera + 3g or 4g(WiMAX) Antenna+ CPU + Transparent Display + Mother Board + powerful battery + smart OS

    • Owen Byrne says:

      I think that “smart OS” part is where things would get complicated.

      • Brian Price says:

        You wouldn’t want a smart OS, you’d want a small and fast OS. Something easily able to run embedded, and without a lot of overhead.

        It would probably run best using a Linux kernel of some sort, with a small and fast OS. The smarts, would come from the application. Most likely you’d have it take the picture and anylize the shape and outline of the building. It would then send the data to a server which would compare GPS location, direction and height with the picture to determine its approximate size and location, and determine the building.

        Anyways, you’d want something which could do it quickly. You definetly would not want anything Windows / Microsoft 😛


        • Ageof86 says:

          Unfortunately I doubt a mass-produced product like that would ever run off Linux because the only developers with the capital to make it happen are the people who actually make money off their operating systems.

          • Jose says:

            you do realize that a good majority of smartphones/pda’s/gps/etc run off Linux bases, right?

  • Karim says:

    Reminds me a bit of the sunglasses in William Gibson’s Virtual Light.

    The sunglasses in that book, you could just look at a plant and the name of the genus and species would magically appear under it.

  • maice sally lee says:

    i like it! i want to buy it but i know it would be expansive. i’m poor.

  • TH says:

    Brilliant concept. It requires very intelligent integration of information, something that the semantic web (or web 3.0, if you will) projects are trying to achieve. So far the driving force behind these projects has been mainly the need for better search engines, but concepts like this really open your mind to the possibilities and hopefully will inspire innovation. The benefits of this, the uses of this… unlimited.

  • Jkr says:

    why does anybody care about a design that is technologically beyond what can be built today? I’m not being sarcastic, I’m actually curious. Put a white border on a piece of glass, and it’s a design? Hurry up and patent that, then in 20 years you can sue apple. It’ll be called the macbook crystal.

    • TH says:

      The idea of concepts is to explore new functions (or affordances, if you will), new ways of implementing and combining them. Concepts often answer questions like “what would it be like if…”

      An example of a “bad” concept would IMO be all those where you just combine an MP3 player or videoscreen to something else. Sure, it might be a new combination, but often the new product would not solve any “problems” or be useful at all.

      Some concepts are just making statements rather than trying to be useful products. This can be seen in the number of “green” or “organic” things that grow or highlight some other issue. These are sometimes close to modern art, or work in a similar way.

      This Looking Glass -concept (I like the name given by Anthony) is really about functionality. Anyone could put a clear screen and border together, that’s not the issue here, the concept is in what you could do with it, the combination of the tool and how it works.


    The point of concepts is to push the envelope so that new technologies can emerge. If you don’t like the idea of concepts, move to a third world country where your only thought for the day is survival.

  • phantam says:

    that will never come true?

    Don’t say never…. EVER

    they said force fields and invisibility were only for sci-fi shows, yet DARPA is currently researching both

    They once said the world was flat, and it wasnt

    The fact is science and technology always catches up to the ideas… if we didnt have cool ideas we wouldn’t have things to strive for,

    How would you like to bet that in say 100 years when we have actual space ships for distant travels they look somehat like the ones from startrek or stargate… why because even though their impossible now, the fact is the idea is their for the future.

    This design is wicked, i’d love if eventually it could be made a real product can you imagine having that on a trip to europe or elsewhere.

    • Jasper says:

      Minor point: who ever said the world was flat?
      It was well-known to the ancient Greeks that the world was round- they did a reasonable job of calculating it’s size!

      Looking Glass: BRILLIANT concept- bet Google get there first!

      • Jimmy C says:

        You obviously don't know your history. The Greeks weren't the only people back then.

      • Jimmy C says:

        You obviously don't know your history. The Greeks weren't the only people back then.

  • Michai says:

    I give it a modest 15-20 years before something like this goes commercial, given the current tech trend.

  • Dustin says:

    For all of you naysayers, just think back 100 years. If someone came up with the idea of a multi-touch device that plays music, plays movies, makes/receives phone calls, has a calendar, address book, telephone, can surf the “internet,” etc. – the iPhone – and went around showing people, they’d probably be saying the same thing you’re saying now. “Impossible … it’ll never happen.” If we all had that same mind-frame, we’d still be using sticks as utensils and living outdoors. That’s what thinking outside of the box is all about…

  • chetan sorab says:

    would be fun to carry around

  • Ron Cohen says:

    We already have this online to a certain extent via cell phones. See (US/UK) and (Japan).

  • We’ve been looking at aspects of ideas like this, though in the context of captioning photographs. We’re using GPS and compass to try to work out where a camera is looking. We have some details at the project web site

  • JHL says:

    Bill Gates demo’d a working prototype of this idea at CES this year, but this is a much nicer form factor. Bill’s unit came “straight from Microsoft Research” and looked it.

  • Luigi Cappel says:

    I love it! When can I have one. I work for GeoSmart in New Zealand. We are a mapping company with a wide range of gps and mapping solutions. We supply Fleet Management Systems and car navigation for brands such as Navman, TomTom, BMW, Siemens VDO etc. We supply Web Mapping API’s used on sites such as and and are owned by the NZ Automobile Association which has a membership of around 1.2 million people. If you develop this product, we would love to participate in spatial search support where it relates to New Zealand. Our API’s are also used in many other countries around the world, although currently only for Fleet Management.

    We have technologies in development that could potentially support features such as building recognition.

  • lcabral says:

    This is actually already possible since some time! Or at least part of it. In the Augmented Reality (AR) field, there has been some research with merging real time captured images with geographical stored data!
    veral aplication could be exactly to serve as interactive guidebooks (point it to the Eiffel tower and get its info, such as images, history, distance, etc.
    The problem is that you have to have a GPS, access to a database, and a good system to merge real images (actually in AR the concept is to analise the image and relate it to something instead of using GPS) with a layer of information data from a local or web geographical repository (yes, I’m talking of a real computer with rendering hardware). Se ) You have to consider several dificulties:
    * GPS hare not as accurate as this designers paint then (you can point the glass to Eiffel tower but the GPS would need to know were you were, your pointing direction, blocking buildings in between).
    * regarding internet access, I have to admit that we are capable of accessing any information we desire (as long as we have the money. Go outside of your contry and start connecting you mobile/PDA , through roaming) to get information from the Web and let me know how much your provider charge you) And obviously it didn’t compare to this display.
    * the last example is bad! You actually have to scan and text OCR it (understand the characters) before you can query google! were I to develop this tool i’de say it would be easier to place a virtual keyboard for the user to introduce the word itself!

    Designers tend to design beautifully stuff and say “Now you figure out how to build it”. If you take the visual design of stuff and just put in the functional concepts, let me tell you that anyone can do your job (probably most of it was already done in Scy-Fi books/movies)
    A good example was recently a designer that design lamp that could supply itself just by force of gravity for days (if I’m not mistaken). Later he had to acknowledge if design had flaws since he miscalculated the necessary needed weight require for the design to work

  • Naleen Dhanushka says:

    it is too nice to be true. smart OS will be the jerk coz it will have to be super fast accurate and smart, probably…………i’ll be the first one to buy it if such a successful product reached the market before the end of 2008…. let’s see and everything is possible

  • mx says:

    highly intelligent software, i think we’ll get there soon. but i don’t think a screen is the best carrier of that technology. obviously there will be a personal robot which detects your eyeball movement and also your emotion so it knows you have question about that building, and it will just speak to you.

    • Jimmy C says:

      Computers will ^never^ understand emotion. That is when a concept goes too far. A screen is just perfect for now.

    • Jimmy C says:

      Computers will ^never^ understand emotion. That is when a concept goes too far. A screen is just perfect for now.

  • venessa says:

    I love this idea.
    -window to the world

  • Great, great concept!!! Please, can I post a reference of this post with pics in my blog?

  • me says:

    this is now available on smartphones. it is called “Layar”

  • .... says:


  • koushik says:

    good one, i want the full details about this technology…….

  • ary says:

    Those light need more sharpen

  • james says:

    theres an app for that

  • james says:

    theres an app for that

  • GADEL says:

    This concept is awesome.

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