Augmented reality devices have increasingly been gaining traction in the tech world and a number of companies are trying to create their own fully-functional augmented reality devices. Now, it has been revealed that the tech giant, Microsoft, is also working on one. It is being touted as ‘MirageTable’, essentially a tabletop set up where people at remote locations can come together, feeling that it is happening in real 3D.
The most promising aspect of this new augmented reality device is that it doesn’t need a lot of equipment that is conventionally a part of augmented reality setups. MirageTable makes use of a 3D video projector which then beams images on a curved white plastic sheet. This sheet is positioned directly in front of the user.
According to researchers at Microsoft, they were “motivated by a simple idea: can we enable the user to interact with 3D digital objects alongside real objects in the same physically realistic way and without wearing any additional trackers, gloves or gear.”
The user is also required to wear shutter glasses and Microsoft’s Kinect sensors are used to discern the direction of the user’s gaze so as to provide him the right 3D view.
This device can prove very instrumental for a real, 3D-like video conferencing experience. According to Microsoft, “In our system, the user can hold a virtual object, move it, or knock it down, since all virtual and real objects participate in a real-world physics simulation… The unique benefit of this setup is that two users share not only the 3D image of each other, but also the tabletop task space in front of them.”
However, for now the project remains incomplete. The cameras are still unable to provide a full simulation of the real 3D world, leaving some poorly rendered textures. The team is continuing work on it and hopes to fill up these gaps as is manifest in the words, “While we are still very far from an implementation of a working version of Star Trek’s Holodeck, MirageTable shows the potential of the projector/depth camera system to simulate such scenarios.”
Source: Microsoft Research