Microsoft is building a foot-controlled infotainment platform

Here's something we didn't expect: Microsoft is developing a projector-based infotainment system that you manipulate with your feet. Really. We found Microsoft's Project Ripple at the Augmented World Expo, but it seemed better suited to the local mall. The company admits it's similar, but told me that what we see in public today isn't living up to its potential. Project Ripple just might.

There's truth in those words: most of the mall projector games we see consist of one "screen," coming from above -- but Ripple ads a second projector in front of the user's eyes. This second display is controlled by Kinect-translated hand gestures. This makes the platform more versatile, Microsoft tells us, it can be used to deliver information, create interactive ads or could be used to give presentations at special events.

Ultimately, Redmond is leaving the utility up to the users. Project Ripple is a going to be a free, open-source platform -- not a product. Microsoft is building a free drag-and-drop editor to create new custom experiences and menus, with support for Flash, HTML, PPT and video content. Sadly, Microsoft's demos at the show were fairly basic: simple match games, a Shoots and Ladders clone and some simple slideshows. If there's potential in this floor-projected presentation platform, it'll probably come from the community. Check out the video above to see it in action.