Microsoft unveils SurroundWeb tech

March 3, 2014 // 10:13 a.m.

Tags: #illumiroom #internet-explorer #kinect #microsoft #microsoft-research #projector #surroundweb

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.

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