Microsoft Turns Sci-Fi Into (Augmented) Reality

Microsoft’s Research team in Cambridge recently lifted the veil on their $30 billion research and development lab.  And what they had to show got us thinking that the future is getting closer to the fantastic world of Sci-Fi.

They’ve dug deeper into the the huge possibilities of their Kinect technology, unveiled  Kinect Fusion.  It creates an interactive real-time 3D model of the environment, Kinect-infused augmented projectors, which are projection-based devices that are “aware” of their environment via sensors and cameras.

Then there’s the wrist-worn Digits system–covered here by SiliconANGLE’s Kyt Dotson–which is designed to track hand movements to improve virtual navigation.  It uses the combination of infrared laser, camera, and diffuser to create Digits, which allows it to detect movement as the wearer’s individual fingers.

At the moment, the Digits system is clunky, wirelessly connecting to a PC to work.  It’s about what you’d expect for a prototype, with a commercial offering likely slimmer and wireless.  The device is promising when augmented reality is put in the equation.  Imagine those movies that pull up information in the air and with a flick of their finger, they can scroll up or down a document, pull up other files or discard unnecessary junk.

“In the future we will see more and more, we believe, of no-touch computing,” said Andrew Blake, a Microsoft Distinguished Scientist and the Laboratory Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge. “There is something rather compelling about such a free style of interaction, breaking free from the desktop and being much more expressive.”