Microsoft Unveils Augmented Mirror, Holographic Projection, Other VR Tools at TechForum

Posted by at 3:08 pm on February 28, 2012

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.

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