Last year at a tech conference (I can’t remember which one, they all blur into a haze of bad food and heavy backpacks) I wandered into a Sony Electronics “Future Lab”. It was chock-full of new projection technology that allowed not just super short throw distances (meaning you didn’t have to place a projector across the room to create a large image), but also projectors that created impromptu touchscreens. Wow is right.

Currently, a touchscreen needs to have local electronics in the screen to know where you’re touching. But Sony has figured out a way to combine projection technology with gesture and touch recognition, resulting in some impressive user interfaces that have people thinking, talking and imagining.

On display at this year’s SXSW conference, Sony’s “Wow Factory”, includes not just the projector touchscreen technology I saw last year, but also some agumented reality technology that recognizes objects and depth.

In one demo, users can take a simple block, place it on a table and the down-pointing projector recognizes the object, instantly projecting it into an architectural skin and into a 3D scale model of a house. In another demo, a teacup is placed on a table and the projector recognizes an Alice in Wonderland theme, throwing a story onto the objects. It even allows you to interact with characters and objects on the virtual page.

In another demonstration, a projector sitting atop a flat surface projects musical input objects - keyboards or drum pads, and tracks your hands and fingers to allow you to play piano or drums on virtually any flat surface.

The possibilities are virtually endless, assuming Sony gets this technology into a package that’s both size and wallet-friendly.