Professor to unveil self-levitating displays (w/ Video)

Professor to unveil self-levitating displays (w/ Video)
Credit: Queen's University

An interactive swarm of flying 3D pixels (voxels) developed at Queen's University's Human Media Lab is set to revolutionize the way people interact with virtual reality. The system, called BitDrones, allows users to explore virtual 3D information by interacting with physical self-levitating building blocks.

Queen's professor Roel Vertegaal and his students are unveiling the BitDrones system on Monday, Nov. 9 at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Charlotte, North Carolina. BitDrones is the first step towards creating interactive self-levitating - materials capable of changing their 3D shape in a programmable fashion - using swarms of nano quadcopters. The work highlights many possible applications for the new technology, including real-reality 3D modeling, gaming, molecular modeling, medical imaging, robotics and online information visualization.

"BitDrones brings flying programmable matter, such as featured in the futuristic Disney movie Big Hero 6, closer to reality," says Dr. Vertegaal. "It is a first step towards allowing people to interact with virtual 3D objects as real physical objects."

Dr. Vertegaal and his team at the Human Media Lab created three types of BitDrones, each representing self-levitating displays of distinct resolutions. "PixelDrones" are equipped with one LED and a small dot matrix display. "ShapeDrones" are augmented with a light-weight mesh and a 3D printed geometric frame, and serve as for complex 3D models. "DisplayDrones" are fitted with a curved flexible high resolution touchscreen, a forward-facing video camera and Android smartphone board. All three BitDrone types are equipped with reflective markers, allowing them to be individually tracked and positioned in real time via motion capture technology. The system also tracks the user's hand motion and touch, allowing to manipulate the voxels in space.

"We call this a Real Reality interface rather than a Virtual Reality interface. This is what distinguishes it from technologies such as Microsoft HoloLens and the Oculus Rift: you can actually touch these pixels, and see them without a headset," says Dr. Vertegaal.

Dr. Vertegaal and his team describe a number of possible applications for this technology. In one scenario, users could physically explore a file folder by touching the folder's associated PixelDrone. When the folder opens, its contents are shown by other PixelDrones flying in a horizontal wheel below it. Files in this wheel are browsed by physically swiping drones to the left or right.

Users would also be able to manipulate ShapeDrones to serve as building blocks for a real-time 3D model. Finally, the BitDrone system will allow for remote telepresence by allowing users to appear locally through a DisplayDrone with Skype. The DisplayDrone would be capable of automatically tracking and replicating all of the remote user's head movements, allowing a remote user to virtually inspect a location and making it easier for the local user to understand the remote user's actions.

While their system currently only supports dozens of comparatively large 2.5" - 5" sized drones, the team at the Human Media Lab are working to scale up their system to support thousands of drones. These future drones would measure no more than a half inch in size, allowing users to render more seamless, programmable matter.


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Citation: Professor to unveil self-levitating displays (w/ Video) (2015, November 6) retrieved 20 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-11-professor-unveil-self-levitating-video.html
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Nov 06, 2015
Really? You stick a screen on a drone and call it a self levitating display? If that impresses you then you should come and see my analog zero electricity communication device. Its 2 plastic cups connected with string.

Nov 06, 2015
This is pretty far off from a HoloDeck, but it makes me wonder what could be done with a swarm of networked, spherical robots similar to the Sphero. With proper external textures (spots of smooth surfaces, spots of velcro) and/or internal magnets, they could interact with each other to form three-dimensional shapes.

Nov 06, 2015
As long as they do not get into your eyes or drop on your feet, it is OK
They interfere with your life; They belong on the FLOOR.
May be to surprise a Dog....If Dog tries to attack it, let it give the dog a mild shock. Tell Dog to Just keep out of Drone.

Nov 06, 2015
As long as they do not get into your eyes or drop on your feet, it is OK
They interfere with your life; They belong on the FLOOR.
May be to surprise a Dog....If Dog tries to attack it, let it give the dog a mild shock. Tell Dog to Just keep out of Drone.
You can play with your cat via Skype using a remote-controlled toy. Ochanomizu University has developed Itaneko, which allows cat owner to remotely control it by a computer mouse, while communicating with the cat via video phone.

LRo
Nov 06, 2015
ha, ha, ha.. are you kidding me!

Nov 06, 2015
Stupid. I swear.

Nov 07, 2015
Please send these guys to shovel coal until they come up with something useful instead of wasting time and money on this crap.

Nov 07, 2015
I'll take twelve point seven billion of these, please. I have an alien invasion to fake by Wednesday.

I don't care what the bored hate apes say, I like these.

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