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Microsoft unveils SurroundWeb tech

Microsoft unveils SurroundWeb tech

Microsoft's SurroundWeb system scans for projectable surfaces and allows websites to use them as displays, offering up to 25 independent 'screens' at a higher-than-720p resolution.

Microsoft has released a technical report on a technology it calls SurroundWeb, an extension of its prototype IllumiRoom system designed to provide an immersive projector-powered multi-screen browsing experience.

The system, developed at Microsoft Research, uses technology originally intended for immersive gaming in IllumiRoom to extend the browsing experience to cover up to 25 screens with a 1440x720 resolution each, using a series of projectors to move the content onto the walls and furniture of a room without the need to align the projectors with a room's flat surfaces.

The technologies comes with a range of privacy guarantees, a tacit admission on Microsoft's part that its core technology - the Kinect depth-sensing camera platform - has raised concerns over its always-on capabilities in the console world. SurroundWeb, the team explains, gives web pages the ability to recognise objects, interact with project displays and satellite displays on standard phones and tablets, but does so in a way that abstracts the real data from the page - ensuring, it is claimed, that dodgy websites can't know what devices you've got in your house, or receive a depth map of your living room.

Privacy, in fact, forms the bulk of the team's research details - but that's not to say it's all theoretical: the team has unveiled details of a prototype system designed to operate with Internet Explorer and featuring full screen detection, object detection, natural user interaction and satellite screen support. Each screen - up to 25 in the prototype - can operate independently or in conjunction with others, and appears on any flat surface - automatically avoiding furniture using the depth data from the Kinect-style sensor.

Even with all 25 displays running at a greater-than-720p resolution, the team claims performance is acceptable: the initial scan for projectable surfaces completes in around a minute, and then the system runs in excess of 30 frames per second across all displays. Sadly, the team has not yet released a video - but has offered a summary and detailed technical report through the Microsoft Research site.

9 Comments

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Guinevere 3rd March 2014, 10:42 Quote
Wow, and all it needs is for me to install 25 720p projectors in each room? Where do I sign up?

(Yeah I know a room wouldn't need all 25, I'm making a funny)

So they got acceptable performance using 25 720p screens. On what platform? Something with 25 720p outputs of course which means something powerful. This wasn't running on a low energy ARM chip was it now MS? Shall we guess at a six core i7 with 4 x16 PCIe GPUs?

Automatic 3D scanning tied into software based keystone correction and image manipulation is very clever but nothing terribly complicated for this day and age.

But we just don't have the display tech to go with it. Using projectors is a rubbish approach as if you're sitting facing one you get blinded. 720p res is also WAY to low as well as image interpolation and correction is going to need loads of tiny pixels to correct for projection against surfaces at oblique angles.

Anyone watching 'Almost Human'? The apartment walls in that show are were we need to be heading, and we won't get there until someone invents spray on OLEDs (That are also transparent when off)

And remember peeps, this isn't a project that will ever see the light of day. It's MS doing their 'blue sky' thinking bit, that in honesty is little more than a marketing ploy to say 'Look at us, we're cutting edge' with a side order of 'Kinect is cool, don't buy a PS4!'
Gareth Halfacree 3rd March 2014, 10:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Wow, and all it needs is for me to install 25 720p projectors in each room? Where do I sign up?
No, it doesn't. You'd need a projector for each wall - so a maximum of three, assuming you don't want anything appearing behind you. The 720p+ virtual displays will then be tiled across available flat surfaces within the room. Actual resolution will, of course, vary: if you're using a 1080p projector to power two displays, you might get close to native resolution; if you're using a 640x480 pico-projector to power 20, you can expect to be cranking your font size up a bit. Well, a lot.

You did read the white-paper, right?
RichCreedy 3rd March 2014, 10:58 Quote
working towards a 'Star Trek ™' Holosuite
XXAOSICXX 3rd March 2014, 11:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Wow, and all it needs is for me to install 25 720p projectors in each room? Where do I sign up?

(Yeah I know a room wouldn't need all 25, I'm making a funny)

So they got acceptable performance using 25 720p screens. On what platform? Something with 25 720p outputs of course which means something powerful. This wasn't running on a low energy ARM chip was it now MS? Shall we guess at a six core i7 with 4 x16 PCIe GPUs?

Automatic 3D scanning tied into software based keystone correction and image manipulation is very clever but nothing terribly complicated for this day and age.

But we just don't have the display tech to go with it. Using projectors is a rubbish approach as if you're sitting facing one you get blinded. 720p res is also WAY to low as well as image interpolation and correction is going to need loads of tiny pixels to correct for projection against surfaces at oblique angles.

Anyone watching 'Almost Human'? The apartment walls in that show are were we need to be heading, and we won't get there until someone invents spray on OLEDs (That are also transparent when off)

And remember peeps, this isn't a project that will ever see the light of day. It's MS doing their 'blue sky' thinking bit, that in honesty is little more than a marketing ploy to say 'Look at us, we're cutting edge' with a side order of 'Kinect is cool, don't buy a PS4!'

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/50787/no-pleasing-some-people.jpg
Corky42 3rd March 2014, 11:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Anyone watching 'Almost Human'? The apartment walls in that show are were we need to be heading, and we won't get there until someone invents spray on OLEDs (That are also transparent when off)

We are getting there..
http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/113824-samsung-transparent-smart-windows-display
Snips 3rd March 2014, 11:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Wow, and all it needs is for me to install 25 720p projectors in each room? Where do I sign up?

(Yeah I know a room wouldn't need all 25, I'm making a funny)

So they got acceptable performance using 25 720p screens. On what platform? Something with 25 720p outputs of course which means something powerful. This wasn't running on a low energy ARM chip was it now MS? Shall we guess at a six core i7 with 4 x16 PCIe GPUs?

Automatic 3D scanning tied into software based keystone correction and image manipulation is very clever but nothing terribly complicated for this day and age.

But we just don't have the display tech to go with it. Using projectors is a rubbish approach as if you're sitting facing one you get blinded. 720p res is also WAY to low as well as image interpolation and correction is going to need loads of tiny pixels to correct for projection against surfaces at oblique angles.

Anyone watching 'Almost Human'? The apartment walls in that show are were we need to be heading, and we won't get there until someone invents spray on OLEDs (That are also transparent when off)

And remember peeps, this isn't a project that will ever see the light of day. It's MS doing their 'blue sky' thinking bit, that in honesty is little more than a marketing ploy to say 'Look at us, we're cutting edge' with a side order of 'Kinect is cool, don't buy a PS4!'

Wow, and to think those idiots in the other cave who are waving that fire thingy on a stick, it will never heat the entire cave while cooking a woolly mammoth in 3hours. It'll never catch on!!

(That isn't me holding this Microsoft idea as of importance as the creation of fire but for some people not getting off their arse and moving things forward)
Guinevere 3rd March 2014, 12:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Halfacree
You did read the white-paper, right?

You did read my post, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwen is known to sometimes rub people up the wrong way
(Yeah I know a room wouldn't need all 25, I'm making a funny)
SMIFFYDUDE 3rd March 2014, 13:06 Quote
It wouldn't work in my front room.
wolfticket 3rd March 2014, 13:19 Quote
Another excuse to not actually have to focus on a single thing for more than 10 seconds at a time :)

I quite like the TV surrounded by additional content projected on the wall though. It would be nice for sport and other content that might benefit from at a glance information. I always find the second screen approach (laptop/tablet/phone on a table) too distracting.

Maybe if you had a projector for movies as well as a TV for general use (we all have dreams :) ) you could actually do something similar in a DIY manner, with a computer connected to the projector.
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