Microsoft demos LightSpace

October 5, 2010 // 3:58 p.m.

Tags: #lightspace #microsoft-lightspace #microsoft-research #microsoft-surface #spatial-computing #surface

Microsoft has released a video demo of the next step in its Surface computing project: spatial computing.

Dubbed LightSpace, the technology is demonstrated in a video by Andy Wilson and Hrvoje Benko, both researchers for Microsoft Research - and if you were wowed by Minority Report when it was released, you're going to love the idea.

In the team's words, LightSpace "combines elements of surface computing and augmented reality research to create a highly interactive space where any surface, and even the space between surfaces, is fully interactive."

Using a series of cameras, each focused at a different depth, and a variety of projectors ensconced in a small room, the LightSpace installation allows graphics to be projected onto any surface that is visible to both a camera and a projector.

It's the differing camera depths that enable the magic, though: by using the different views to figure out where a person's hands are, non-interactive surfaces such as a desk or a table can be used interactively as though it was a Microsoft Surface.

Better still, the technology allows for mid-air interactions between displays - allowing a virtual object to be 'picked up' from a table and moved across to the wall, for example. LightSpace is even clever enough to project an object onto your hand, literally allowing you to carry it from place to place in the room.

While the technology is a long way from the Holodeck that every Star Trek fan has been secretly longing for, it's a good step along the way - and while it's purely a proof of concept for now, it's not hard to see LightSpace technology being a future replacement for Microsoft's Kinect controller-free gaming system.

Are you impressed with what Microsoft has achieved with LightSpace, or struggling to see the practical uses beyond showing off the tech at trade shows? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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