Microsoft Research Labs has announced their newest augmented reality project, dubbed Semantic Paint. The project is essentially a way to bring Microsoft Paint, the popular application that comes standard on Microsoft computers, into 3-D.
Semantic Paint makes use of the same technology currently used in the Kinect, an extension of the popular gaming system the Xbox, also manufactured by Microsoft. Using the attached camera, the program creates a scan of the room. Users, whilst standing in the room, can reach out and touch objects, and the software can change the color of said object, just like clicking on an object when using Photoshop.
This function may seem simplistic at first, but the software goes beyond simple coloring. Once one object is pointed out, the software has the ability to identify similar structures. So if, for example, the user identifies a table, the software can then recognize all other tables within the scan. Now, instead of seeing the scan as merely a single object, it can begin to differentiate the various components within that scan. Eventually, users can make commands like; “Turn all of the chairs purple,” and the software can comply.
As of now, Microsoft Research does not have any sort of go-to market strategy for Semantic Paint, saying it is merely a “fun” and “interactive” example of augmented reality. However, it is easy to imagine many areas where technology like this could be useful. As Fast Company Design points out, this technology could find a home as a consumer product aimed at children, perhaps being paired with an Oculus augmented reality device to allow them to literally create the world around them.
The technology could also provide a valuable service to businesses. Internal decorators, for example, could use the augmented reality to show customers new ideas to scale and in real time. Customers could then better visualize concepts and see them evolve in real life, directly in front of them. Microsoft’s VR Paint software is an interesting concept currently, but it has the potential to be employed in several different fields.
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