Microsoft is experimenting with a "holodesk" which three-dimensional virtual objects can be moved by hand. Users can stack blocks or juggle virtual balls.

In the last few months there are some pretty great applications of natural user interface (NUI). Among those, Holodesk is one of my favorite.

Holodesk is a research project of the Sensors and Devices Group at Microsoft Research Cambridge, it is described as “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”. Holodesk made it possible to manipulate 3D objects by hand. Microsoft blogger Steve Clayton says that the technology in future could be used for board games or video telephony.

Kinect camera

As is demonstrated in the (strangely silent) concept video below, Holodesk uses a Kinect, projector and beam splitter to create interactive holograms. The camera watches physical objects, such as your hand and face, tracking their movements and projecting 3D shapes onto a semi-transparent surface. It is a real-time algorithm enables the physically realistic interaction.

It is also possible to combine real objects with virtual objects. Users can also from another location manipulate the playing field, for example, play a virtual game of chess.

Holodesk is not the only 3D-interaction experiments, but according to Clayton, the use of so-called beam-splitters and a graphic processing algorithm makes the difference.

How will the world be changed? Designers make and change their designs by simply holding the images and adding features with finger? That is facinating.

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