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Microsoft unveils slick augmented mirror, more in tech demos

updated 03:35 pm EST, Tue February 28, 2012

Microsoft demos blend physical and digital worlds

Microsoft's Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie unveiled several new technologies that blue the line between physical and digital reality at the fifth annual TechForum gathering at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. The innovations included the latest iteration of the holographic projection systems for the desktop, an augmented reality mirror, and a low-cost lamplike device that turns any surface into a shared VR environment. The devices could find application in areas as diverse as education, gaming and business.

The IllumiShare is a low-cost peripheral that looks like a desk lamp. It projects and shares images of any physical or digital object onto any surface, turning that surface into a shared space. It uses a pair of camera-projectors to capture video images of the local workspace and simultaneously project video of the remote workspace onto the local space. The IllumiShare can be used to have remote meeting attendees interact with conference room whiteboards, to let children can have remote play dates using real toys, and in virtual classrooms. The most difficult challenge was preventing "video echo," rebroadcasting the image of the remote objects in an infinite loop. The system uses software to teach the camera to distinguish between objects that are physically present and the images being transmitted by projector from the remote site.

Another experiment combines a Samsung transparent OLED screen and Kinect sensors into a blended reality destop. An earlier version toured college campuses in 2009, before the Kinect made its debut. In addition to the physical keyboard and mouse controls, the system tracks eye movement with the Kinect to virtually place objects in space behind the screen. It also enables the manipulation of objects on the screen from behind.

The Holoflector features full body motion capture to present blended reality images in realtime. The Holoflector uses conventional camera capture, motion capture, and virtual reality elements to create an augmented reality environment. [via Technet]



Virtual reality desktop








IllumiShare demo



Holoflector





by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Interesting, but

    That's some fun tech, particularly the pseudo-3D that uses eye tracking to make the stuff behind the glass move with your position--there was a neat proof of concept demo using Wii hardware a while ago that I'ma little surprised Nintendo didn't jump on it.

    But is anybody actually going to buy this stuff? Are people really going to pay for a 2-way overhead projector and actually use it? An augmented reality mirror? An awkward 3D glass pane that sits between you and your keyboard?

    It just seems like there are an awful lot of tech demos of technologies that will "revolutionize" things that don't really need revolutionizing (video-chatting play dates? Really?) that you never see mentioned again.

    Or more than tech demos--remember Microsoft's hugely touted Surface initiative from a few years ago? It looked cool and they actually had a shipping product And have you ever seen an actual Surface in use? I certainly haven't, nor have I heard mention of it since a few months after launch.

    Solution without a problem is what it looks an awful lot like.

    Samsung's LCD window was a pretty cool looking demo, though. Except when the power goes out and your blinds suddenly go transparent while you're standing naked staring at your neighbor, who's also naked on the other side of their LCD blinds.

  1. Blairmc

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Unbelievable

    Its not s**t!

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    0

    Re: Interesting, but

    But is anybody actually going to buy this stuff? Are people really going to pay for a 2-way overhead projector and actually use it? An augmented reality mirror? An awkward 3D glass pane that sits between you and your keyboard?

    Apparently you don't get this stuff. This is what R&D and tech stuff is all about. Make something out there, see what you can do, then see what you can do with the technology. It isn't that people are going to run out and get a 3D computer mirror or something. It's "OK, look at this stuff, now, hey, if we take this and throw it into a small DVD player and we've got something!"

    It just seems like there are an awful lot of tech demos of technologies that will "revolutionize" things that don't really need revolutionizing (video-chatting play dates? Really?) that you never see mentioned again.

    You mean like how Apple decided we needed to revolutionize the simple computer mouse? Never understood the problem apple was solving with that one.

    But, again, real technology revolutions start with trying different things. You should know that. Would you have the iPhone and its touch screen if Apple just sat down and said "OK, we need to know what people currently want. They want a phone. And market analysis says they'll gobble up one with an iPod wheel on it, since they love ipods!" No, you have to try things, throw most of it out, and see what sticks.

    BTW, we've had tons of progress over the last 50 years due to tech originally worked on for the space program. No one said "Hey, we need velcro to make it easier for idiots to put on shoes!". Someone had to dream up velcro, then others took the idea and figured out what to do with it.

  1. adavidw

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +1

    Blue the line?

    n/t

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