Microsoft’s Holodesk Allows Users To Directly Interact With Virtual Objects
20. October 2011
All of us, at some point in time, have always wondered what virtual objects, shown in video games, would actually feel like if we could touch them with our own hands. I am not talking in terms of virtual reality or even augmented reality, but in terms of actually touching a coin or a mushroom with your own hands, while playing a game of Super Mario Bros. Such a statement would normally only come true in the world of science fiction right? well not exactly, because thanks a new research project by the Device and sensor group at the Microsoft Cambridge research center, we have already made a new step in the idea of directly interacting with virtual items. Enter the Holodesk
This Holodesk basically consist of an Xbox Kinect camera and a pane of glass, all attached to a computer monitor and a couple of other optical illusion object like a beam splitter. As evident by the video, the man is placing his hands directly below the glass pane, which consists several virtual playing balls. If seen from the top of the glass, the synchronization between the image of his hands and the green playing balls happens in such a way that we get the impression or the illusion that his hands are actually ‘touching’ those balls.
The mechanism behind it is not so hard to comprehend, if you have a strong understanding on how lights and optical illusions work. With the help of a powerful graphic algorithm, the motion of the person’s hands is captured by the kinect camera and then processed to synchronize with the virtual ball, all on the computer screen. For the next step, these optical devices like the beam splitters project this image on the glass pane, which is situated directly above the person’s hands.
Before we you to get to exited, please keep in mind that this device is still a protoype and even when it is fully developed, it will first be available for lab and research use only. However, the amount of exciting advancements to the computer industry, that can be caused by this fully developed product, are too long to list. So I leave the guesswork up to you.