There is a lot of excitement in the tech sector over SpaceTop – a 3-D desktop that was recently demonstrated by its inventor: an MIT graduate student.
The student, Jinha Lee, was an intern at Microsoft's Applied Science group, where he worked on developing a 3-D desktop. What he came up with is called SpaceTop. It is being described by the media as a 3-D see-through computer where users can “reach through” the screen to move files and data with their hands.
According to Lee’s website, it can fuse 2-D and spatial 3-D interactions in a single desktop workspace.
“It extends the traditional desktop interface with interaction technology and visualization techniques that enable seamless transitions between 2D and 3D manipulations. SpaceTop allows users to type, click, draw in 2D, and directly manipulate interface elements that float in the 3D space above the keyboard. It makes it possible to easily switch from one modality to another, or to simultaneously use two modalities with different hands,” he added.
“Lee's work focused on creating an interface though which one could move one's hand naturally and interact with familiar elements like windows and documents,” NBC News explained. “The result is still rather rough, but it's promising. The transparent display is equipped with a camera that tracks the user's head and adjusts the perspective on the 3-D desktop ‘under’ it. Meanwhile, a second camera watches the user's hands and determines their position in three dimensions.”
It was recently shown off at a TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., and it may be some time before it is commercially available. However, it could be widely sought out in the marketplace once it gets developed and sold.
To watch a YouTube video on SpaceTop, see above.
Also, Wired reports that similar initiatives are underway elsewhere. “Gesture-based control has been incorporated into Microsoft’s Kinect, Samsung’s Smart TV platform, and products from startups like Leap Motion and SoftKinect (not to mention in cinema fantasyland). Three dimensional display interfaces, meanwhile, have been brewing at the University of Iowa (home to ‘Leonar3Do’), in the Kickstarter gaming sensation Oculus Rift,” Wired said.
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