Hang on to your perceptions of reality: Microsoft just released a video of a 3D 'HoloDesk,' a radical system that allows users to seemingly manipulate 3D objects like balls and cubes with their hands.
Check out the video below to see what this means:
HoloDesk is a novel interactive system combining an optical see through display and Kinect camera to create the illusion that users are directly interacting with 3D graphics. A virtual image of a 3D scene is rendered through a half silvered mirror and spatially aligned with the real-world for the viewer. Users easily reach into an interaction volume displaying the virtual image. This allows the user to literally get their hands into the virtual display. A novel real-time algorithm for representing hands and other physical objects, which are sensed by the Kinect inside this volume, allows physically realistic interaction between real and virtual 3D objects.
The HoloDesk project came out of the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, according to Microsoft blogger Steve Clayton at TechNet; that group has "the goal of understanding how advances in technology will impact traditional computing and the ways in which people use and interact with computing devices," according to their website, and they have a number of other 3D-based device concepts, including the very cool Augmented Projector and Touch Mouse.
Using technology adapted from their popular and award-winning Kinect gaming system, Microsoft has developed this HoloDesk, which it views as a possible "playground" for students of physics; a remote collaboration station for people at long distances; and for use in both qualitative and quantitative studies of some sort. Our favorite suggestion, however, is one from the TechNet blog, in which one user wishes to slow it down so that he or she could learn how to juggle.
Head over to the Microsoft Sensors and Devices team's website for more on the HoloDesk and other futuristic concepts.
Take a look at our slideshow (below) to see the coolest Kinect hacks users have attempted so far.