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"Holographic" Desk Allows Interaction With Virtual Objects

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the touch-away dept.

Microsoft 85

Zibodiz writes "The Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research has developed a new system called HoloDesk that allows users to pick up, move and even shoot virtual 3D objects. It's about the size of a filing cabinet and is made up of an overhead screen that projects a 2D image through a half-silvered beam splitter into a viewing area beneath. A Kinect camera keeps tabs on a user's hand position within the 3D virtual environment, a webcam tracks the user's face to help with placement accuracy, and custom algorithms bring everything together in (something very close to) real time."

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85 comments

HoloDesk? (0)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846534)

Doesn't Paramount own the trademark on HoloDeck? And would this be too close for comfort?

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846604)

First they would have to prove that people are confused by the name and mix it up with a product produced by Star Fleet.

I don't think anyone will make the honest mistake of thinking this product was produced by a 25th century institution.

However, I'm sure if Apple were to buy Paramount they would sue anyway. Especially if this device has rounded corners, an on/off switch, or limited buttons.

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

jkirch (2224694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846668)

As far as lawsuits are concerned, I'm more worried about someone giving Picard access to one of these, a 1920's bar simulation and a machine gun. Is it still assault with a deadly weapon if it's virtual?

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846754)

There's no force-feedback yet. You can interact with object in the environment, but you can't feel them. So this is of no interest to Picard, or the porn industry, for now.

Re:HoloDesk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37846780)

This IS America after all. There are large swaths of the population who believe that dinosaurs roamed the earth with humans and that evolution is a crock.

Re:HoloDesk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847092)

But humans did roam the earth at the same time as dinosaurs! Don't you watch Terra Nova?

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847976)

But humans did roam the earth at the same time as dinosaurs! Don't you watch Terra Nova?

And don't forget Land of the Lost [wikipedia.org]. Even if you disregard the time-traveling modern humans, the show clearly documented early cavemen (i.e. Cha-Ka) living with dinosaurs.

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847320)

I don't think anyone will make the honest mistake of thinking this product was produced by a 25th century institution.

I think you overestimate people's average intelligence...

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846828)

Trademark? It would be hard to defend a trademark of something that doesn't exist, much less hasn't ever been traded. When they start selling holo-decks maybe they will have a case. Now copyright, on the other hand, might be a problem.

Re:HoloDesk? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847142)

Google didn't think twice about naming their failed messaging service Wave in reference to the communications in Firefly. Of course, I'm not sure which lasted longer - Google Wave or Firefly. Maybe there'll be a movie.

Re:Not related to holography, at all. (1)

miknix (1047580) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848498)

D. Gabor and Denisuk would be sad about this incorrect usage of "holography" in the summary..

Re:Not related to holography, at all. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37850492)

Agreed - I wish people (and especially Hollywood) would learn just what the hell a hologram IS.

Point Cloud ? (3, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846542)

I'm surprised they are using a point cloud and not a mesh for the tracking? That would explain why the physics seems a little unstable / jumpy when the ball floats around on the book.

Cool prototype -- will be real interesting to see what kind of applications get developed once this tech is cheap enough where every home has one.

Re:Point Cloud ? (3, Interesting)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846854)

This is a shot in the dark, but: interacting meshes would involve specific collision detection between surfaces, which (when scanning an object in real time) could lead to locked models (the virtual object could "stick" to you, or other objects). A particle system allows them to define "particles repel each other" and get around that problem. Notice how (relatively) large the particles themselves are -- I'm guessing it can only deal with a limited amount of particles within the environment at the same time.
(and yes, I realize that the size of the particles you see doesn't necessarily mean that this is what the program is doing, but the number of particles probably is)

Re:Point Cloud ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37848770)

I'm guessing it can only deal with a limited amount of particles within the environment at the same time.

That's why I try to avoid computers, finite numbers are boring.

Re:Point Cloud ? (1)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846884)

Nice point! But, I imagine it comes from plug in solution that the kinect is. Why would they want to make a custom solution? JUST KIDDING! Although, this seems to be the modern mindset, which is perfectly fine for interesting idea creation.

Call me unimaginative, but I picture vr glasses as becoming cheaper before something the size of a cabinet does.

Re:Point Cloud ? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847096)

The two aren't mutually exclusive. Certainly, the glasses will be cheaper and easier to produce, but even if you create a surface like that which is only a single "slab", there will still be scenarios where there's just no room, and the glasses will be the only option.
Of course, it's possible that someday you could get the same effect with a pico-projector, but doing the 3D scanning *and* 3D projecting from a single point really is sci-fi, for now.

Aw Bob grows up (1, Funny)

ToasterTester (95180) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846628)

Sure sounds like rebirth of MS Bob. MS never lets old code go to waste, wait long enough the idea will come around again.

Re:Aw Bob grows up (1)

shadowfaxcrx (1736978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846708)

The next step is for a holographic full-sized office with a holographic representation of a laptop on the desk ;)

StarWars (1)

keehun (1966090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846644)

The graphics on the display really look like the stuff from Star Wars (original trilogy) where the chess pieces attack each and kill each other

Already been done.... back in 98 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37846658)

I worked for the Electronics Visualization Laboratory, back in the late 90's. We developed a similar system called PARIS,some time around 1998.

http://www.evl.uic.edu/core.php?mod=4&type=1&indi=83

Re:Already been done.... back in 98 (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848356)

I saw a movie of this in '93 at a IEEE meeting, could be one of your early prototypes, could be you were not the first, hard to say.

Re:Already been done.... back in 98 (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848526)

Ha I found it "digitaldesk" all one word.

http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/techreports/UCAM-CL-TR-330.html [cam.ac.uk]

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5772530828816089246 [google.com]

I believe this movie dated june 1991 is the actual movie I watched in '93 at the IEEE meeting

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8lCetZ_57g [youtube.com]

The movie is well worth watching and I promise my immortal /. Karma that it is not a rickroll.

Other than resolution and 3d acceleration, nothing has really changed in the past 20 years WRT this specific technology.

Re:Already been done.... back in 98 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37848802)

What is your stupid point anyway? That nobody should improve upon anything? If you apply some thought you'd realize that there is little in common between what you did and what this is, much like the Model-T and a Ferrari.

I'm relatively glad that your anti-progress mindset isn't adopted by anyone sane.

Re:Already been done.... back in 98 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37853066)

Silicon Graphics has a Holodesk in the mid to late 90's as well...

Now where did I leave that virtual stapler (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846662)

I have a handful of virtual papers I need to staple and someone stole my virtual stapler. Well, I better check the virtual drawer for a virtual paper clip.

Re:Now where did I leave that virtual stapler (4, Funny)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846774)

nooooooo don't let clippy out of there or we are all doomed

Re:Now where did I leave that virtual stapler (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847268)

I see you are attempted to create a holographic environment. Would you like some help?

Re:Now where did I leave that virtual stapler (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847384)

I apologize to anyone I may have frightened by my use of the "c" word in my post. Please mentally replace the "c" word with Acco Clip. Again, I apologize profoundly. It was thoughtless on my part.

Pfffft (1)

cornface (900179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846736)

I am working on a system that lets you manipulate objects on a desktop, but contains both 3D objects and immediate and realistic tactile sensation.

The best part is the objects are completely functional. For instance, I have a pencil object right now that will write on a paper object and dull itself over time. It is realistically modeled in wood.

I've also implemented drawers which can be used to organize and store the objects for later retrieval, as well as a rudimentary file system.

I'm not entirely sure what to call it yet, but I'm thinking of going with "a desk."

Re:Pfffft (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847232)

Yeah, and could you do a fully interactive read of an MRI with one of those? Would be very useful to push and prod and turn 3D scans, and peel away layers. There's plenty more applications.

Re:Pfffft (1)

cornface (900179) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848880)

I think it is unrealistic to expect a wooden desk to process MRI images when the human brain itself is often incapable of processing a "joke."

Insert joke here (0)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846798)

It appears you are posting a reply to a story about Microsoft. Please select one or more of the following unfunny references:

o 640 K of memory
o Chair throwing
o Blue something of death
o Microsoft Bob

Do not include a punchline.

Awesome game ideas! (1)

falzer (224563) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846822)

Just imagine: virtual hand-washing dishes, virtual weed pulling, virtual pebble sorting.
The video-game possibilities are endless!

Applications for science (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37846872)

I'm going through the Organic Chemistry sequence in college right now and I find the one of the most difficult ideas to present to students (myself and my classmates) is the 3D spatial arrangement of molecules.

If the professor had access to one of these Holodesks during a lecture he could rotate enantiomers as well as perform reactions in real time which could be a huge boon for anyone having trouble with regiochemistry.

When did Microsoft stories (0)

wiredog (43288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846874)

Lose the Borg logo?

Re:When did Microsoft stories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847090)

Yeah, at least you could cross out "Micro" and write (red sharpie) in "Fail" below it

Sorry (1, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37846892)

I fail to see the practical applications of this. I mean yeah, instead of relying on sensors that are orders of magnitude more sensitive or precise than the human hand, let's re-create a virtual world with a bad physics system and let people use their extremely low resolution hands to do things that they could do for real with real objects. I mean short of being a toy, what is the point?

Re:Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847052)

Somewhere between the drawing board and real world product lies things such as proof of concept and prototype. You don't go from no Holodeck to having a Holodeck without intermediate steps in between that aren't viable.

Re:Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847328)

I fail to see the practical applications of this. I mean yeah, instead of relying on sensors that are orders of magnitude more sensitive or precise than the human hand, let's re-create a virtual world with a bad physics system and let people use their extremely low resolution hands to do things that they could do for real with real objects. I mean short of being a toy, what is the point?

You're right - any sort of innovation or invention MUST have a practical use. Proof of concepts are ALWAYS a waste of time, unless your creation is immediately useful then you should be ashamed of yourself and not allowed to do any sort of invention ever again.

Re:Sorry (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848196)

any sort of innovation or invention MUST have a practical use.

No, but it must provide a foreseeable return on investment if you expect the idea to ever leave the prototype stage. It's easy to beg for money for projects. It's hard to take projects and turn them into money. How can this be turned into money?

Re:Sorry (1)

MikeUW (999162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37852612)

That's right - all research and development is done because we already what the ROI will be in the end. In fact, we don't even need to do this R&D anymore...we should just be going straight to the R on the I, and skip all the stuff that comes between ideas and the the final, polished product or implementation. Now if only we could somehow research and develop a way to actually accomplish this feat...anyone have a proof of concept for this?

Re:Sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847632)

I fail to see the practical applications of this. I mean yeah, instead of relying on sensors that are orders of magnitude more sensitive or precise than the human hand, let's re-create a virtual world with a bad physics system and let people use their extremely low resolution hands to do things that they could do for real with real objects. I mean short of being a toy, what is the point?

No practical application? Because, yeah no one needs more space on their (computer) desktop than their monitor provides. I can see work desks / stations and conference tables making use of this technology. A larger 3D desktop where items can be manipulated, displayed and kept handy just might be good. The desktop could be "shared" for view or work across multiple stations as well. 3D goggles / glasses could do this as well, but then you have limited viewing to one person (or at least those with goggles). It helps to have an imagination when considering the eventual uses of research work.

Re:Sorry (3, Insightful)

JMZero (449047) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849072)

instead of relying on sensors that are orders of magnitude more sensitive or precise than the human hand

The hand isn't a sensor at all in this context; rather, the manipulations of the hand are picked up by distinctly non-hand sensors. It's clear the current limit on this system is those sensors, computers, and software - all of which could improve quickly if this moved beyond research.

extremely low resolution hands

My hands have, uh... pretty high resolution. Are your hands kind of blocky? Do they show aliasing when you turn them? More to the point, humans are extremely adept at doing fine manipulation with their hands and these manipulations are extremely intuitive. If they could make this work very well, I see no reason it couldn't be used for a bunch of things: teaching and demonstrating, as an intuitive UI for controlling robots (that might actually be acting on smaller or larger or toxic or distant objects in real life), or for experimenting with possible approaches or designs.

It doesn't take much imagination to come up with possible applications for this.

That said, probably it will never come to anything (at least not in a similar form) or not for a while. But if you disapprove because you fail to see practical applications now, I think you're both wrong (in this case) and misguided (in the general case). I think it's cool MS is doing research that they probably can't exploit immediately. It shows foresight to be thinking about interface methods before they're really practical. Nintendo (or whoever they bought tech from) probably had some very crappy Wii-like peripherals in research long before they worked well enough to sell. It might take 100 ideas and prototypes like this to find 1 that is the next big thing. But that's how we get cool new stuff.

Disregarding all that, even if it was completely pointless (and I don't think it is) I think it's fun that we can see it and discuss it on a site that is about interesting technology.

I mean short of being a toy, what is the point?

Do you mean "beyond being a toy"? If so, you said the exact opposite thing. Or do you not think this would fall short of working as a toy? Because it seems to me like it works as a toy right now.

What is the Microsoft you speak of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37846910)

Where's my borg?

Hollographic monitor from the stadium (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847010)

My holographic monitor, i watched this video on, was too large to fit in my room (and i am at the stadium as you can notice). :)

Like Surface... (1, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847314)

...you'll see it in demos and as a prop for TV series but it'll never be something you can actually buy. It's just M$ egoware. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Bring back the Borg Gates! (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37847652)

Seriously, bring back that thing.

Re:Bring back the Borg Gates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37848360)

Microsoft is no longer "the borg". Every tech company now is. Also, bill gates retired like 10 years ago.

It's not accurate any more.

Re:Bring back the Borg Gates! (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849564)

You'd be naive to believe they don't have a few robotic Gates' stashed away somewhere "just in case".

Re:Bring back the Borg Gates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849318)

I always thought that borg-gates thing was stupid.. but I would support bringing it back provided they start using a "Steve Jobs wearing a strap-on" logo for Apple articles.

So much MS Hate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37847776)

If this was developed with a Linux system you guys would all be harping about all the practicle applications and uses this could have in the future...

Re:So much MS Hate... (1)

Archwyrm (670653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849580)

That's because you can actually get some work done on a good Linux distro, instead of spending all your time rebooting and getting popups out of your face.

Pron (1)

thomasw_lrd (1203850) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848070)

Does anybody else see hiding this from the wife a problem? Give it to some porn websites and let them work out the details, and they'll have a commercially viable product in 6 months.

Re:Pron (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849380)

Does anybody else see hiding this from the wife a problem? Give it to some porn websites and let them work out the details, and they'll have a commercially viable product in 6 months.

Except this technology exists since 1998 [uic.edu]. Pron industry had 13 years to take it for free, but now that MS claimed it to be their latest "innovation" you have to pay them rent for it every time you buy a non-Windows computer. (MS does not specify what patents it collects rent on, so this one might be among them).

HoloDesk? I have dyslexia damn it! (1)

MichaelJE2 (833360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848098)

Did anyone else misread that as holodeck, not desk? Way to get my hopes up summary.

Useful in combination with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37848108)

Haptic technology. You wear a glove which applies pressure to your hand in the right spots, and voila! The only difference between this and real life is... well, nothing, besides the fact that you can't take the object out of the HoloDesk.

This has a tremendous amount of applications, namely (as mentioned in the video) long-distance collaboration and prototyping.

Sure the physics is buggy right now, but it's just a prototype, and it's using a Kinect for video. Something much more accurate could be used instead.

Who cares about a Holographic desk, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37848586)

I want to know when they release a holographic bed.

Shopping... (1)

Glarimore (1795666) | more than 2 years ago | (#37848980)

This kind of technology will completely change the marketplace.

If these get cheap enough that you can put one of these in your house, it would give you the ability to handle a virtual version of whatever item you wanted to buy... before you bought it! If these machines were accurate and sensitive enough (and had the computational power) you could even interact with a virtual version of say, a mobile phone. You wouldn't be able to actually "feel" anything you you were handling, but it sure beats the hell out of a jpeg.

I've always wanted a 3D weather applet (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37849098)

and visualize the thunderstorm right there on the edge of my desktop, as it as it lurches towards Virginia.

3-Some (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37849388)

If me and my friend are fondling my holobabe does that count as a 3-some?

Worst Salad Bar Ever (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37851270)

It's bad enough that some people only eat salads, but now virtual salads! I can just feel the weight melting off!

Pepper's Ghosts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37851304)

Its another variation on Pepper's Ghosts and not a Hologram. But its cute I'll give this implementation that.

Whats with the crappy resolutions? (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37851804)

In this day and age, why do they always upload this in some shitty lowres version recorded on someones Nokia phone from 1998?

1080p people!

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