Holodesk prototype puts life in computers (w/ video)

Oct 20, 2011 by Nancy Owano report

(PhysOrg.com) -- A research project at Microsoft Research Cambridge has brought forth a prototype called Holodesk, which lets you manipulate virtual objects with your hand. You literally "get your hands on" the virtual display. According to the official description from its creators, there is at work a "novel real-time algorithm for representing hands and other physical objects" allowing physically realistic interaction between real and virtual 3-D objects.

Holodesk does its magic with the help of an optical see-through display plus Kinect camera. The illusion is that the user is directly touching and maneuvering 3-D graphics. According to the project notes, a of a 3-D scene is rendered through a half-silvered mirror and spatially aligned with the real world for the viewer.

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A Holodesk video shows the user looking down on a pane of glass at virtual but very realistic-looking balls and other shaped objects. His hands are positioned underneath the glass and they move in such a way that you think the user is actually moving real objects around. He scoops real balls into cups, or so it seems. The video as a whole is a deft rendering of how the virtual and real meet. While Holodesk is not the only 3-D interaction experiment out there, observers say it stands away from the pack, with its use of called beam-splitters and a graphic processing algorithm, in providing a life-like experience.

Holodesk is one of the latest innovations within the and Devices Group (working with technologies such as sensors, flexible electronics, and novel displays)at Microsoft Research. The latter, since its establishment in 1991, has become a large and active software research organization.

Microsoft Research joins today's research hotbeds looking at enhancing environments. The name of the game is creating clever ways to enable the user to cross that magical bridge between reality and the virtual. Meantime, Microsoft itself is reportedly working on all fronts on innovations that involve the “natural user interface,” or in software developer parlance, the NUI. A NUI is supported by technology that frees up users to carry out relatively natural movements or gestures that control and manipulate on-screen content. As such, the NUI is elevated as one of the next big things in human-machine interactions.

As for possible applications for Holodesk, easy assumptions might place it squarely in gaming but its potential may also one day surface in design and research. In this wider sense, the Holodesk debut is one more idea from Microsoft Research that suggests a bright NUI future.

Explore further: Bringing history and the future to life with augmented reality

More information: via Microsoft blog

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User comments : 12

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3 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2011
Nice, I want to see the interface monkey play against the pingpong robot over this. They could get the robot mouth to cheer for them.


No , on a serious note, this would be interesting integrated into glasses/wearable goggles, might appear to external observers that the user is grabbing invisible butterflies, but,..it's cool.

1 / 5 (1) Oct 20, 2011
Wow, totally cool.
0.7 / 5 (25) Oct 20, 2011
Pretty cool indeed.

But its just a package of existing systems put into one.
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2011
Some five years ago I saw a system that blew puffs of air into one's hands and created the illusion o handling tangible objects. I'd like to try it with this system.
1 / 5 (3) Oct 20, 2011
and I was thinking of purchasing Windows 7. . .so maybe I should just hold off and wait a few years for this new hi tech.
3 / 5 (2) Oct 20, 2011
Pretty cool indeed.

But its just a package of existing systems put into one.

@kaasinees. I don't get the point in the last paragraph of your statement. The dismissive tone seems odd.
1 / 5 (1) Oct 21, 2011
Now about that spin off project to take a supermodel and make a holodeck model of her three dimensional photometric 'image'....ahhh the possibilities are endless...now program sensory inputs and detectors....and transducers...
not rated yet Oct 21, 2011
You mean "silvered"?
0.7 / 5 (25) Oct 21, 2011
Pretty cool indeed.

But its just a package of existing systems put into one.

@kaasinees. I don't get the point in the last paragraph of your statement. The dismissive tone seems odd.

Because its just a projection with some cameras and software, no big deal, in fact some of the software most likely developed in university of netherlands.

If you compare that with real hologram systems that have been studied this is no big deal.
not rated yet Oct 23, 2011
Ricochet: Looks like "silvered" to me.
not rated yet Oct 25, 2011
They must've corrected it, then. That or I'm somewhat lysdexic.

I'm surprised no one's made any ball jokes yet.
not rated yet Oct 29, 2011
already been done with the vuzix star1200 ar glasses :)

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