Feeds

Microsoft debuts Holodesk to fiddle with balls

Redmond boldly going where others have gone before

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Microsoft has released a video of what’s it’s calling a Holodesk – a 3D holographic display that allows users to virtually pick up and use software constructs such as balls and blocks.

The system, built by Microsoft Research in Cambridge, uses a webcam and Kinect technology to follow the user’s hands and face, adds a set of beam splitters to measure depth, then uses custom graphics algorithms to match the signals. The user has to look through a half-silvered mirror to see the images, and the whole thing is around the size of a small filing cabinet.

The technology for sensing motion and displaying such images is not new. The Israeli company Lumio demonstrated similar systems for virtual keyboards nearly ten years ago, and IBM is widely credited with something similar a decade before. But what makes this different is the sophistication of the process, the company says.

“For the record, the Holodesk isn’t the only 3D interaction experiment out there,” blogged Microsoft evangelist Steve Clayton. “But what sets it apart from the rest is the use of beam-splitters and a graphic processing algorithm, which work together to provide a more life-like experience.”

Based on the video of the unit in action, it’s certainly interesting stuff, but the movements are a little jerky and it clearly has occasional problems with placement. The ability to use physical objects as well as holographic ones, while maintaining the laws of physics in the simulations is interesting, but anyone expecting a full Star Trek experience is in for a major disappointment.

Microsoft envisions the system being used for gaming and telepresence, or even to develop and try out prototypes. But the hardware required to view the images is so cumbersome, and the touch controls insufficiently fine-grained, that El Reg suspects this one won’t be on your desktop any time soon.

That said, given the equipment’s size it might make a good video arcade game (for younger readers, these used to look like this.) ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.