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Holodesk Prototype Puts Life in Computers

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Microsoft Research Cambridge has developed Holodesk, a prototype virtual display that enables users to interact with virtual objects using their hands.

Holodesk creates the realistic illusion of direct physical touching and maneuvering three-dimensional (3D) graphics by using an optical see-through display and a Kinect camera. The display renders a virtual image of a 3D scene through a half-slivered mirror and spatially aligns it with the real world for the viewer.

In a video demonstration of the Holodesk technology, a user looks down on a pane of glass at virtual, realistic-looking balls and other objects. The user then positions his hands underneath the glass and moves them like he was manipulating real objects and scoops a virtual ball into cups. The research project stands out from other 3D experiments because Holodesk uses optical devices called beam splitters and a graphic processing algorithm to provide a life-like experience.

The researchers say Holodesk could be used in gaming as well as in design and research.

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