Microsoft’s Surface Sphere Prototype

Microsoft researchers have taken the wraps off a touch based sphere prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a round computer display to life. People can interact with the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.

Sphere, as it’s known, is purely a research project. The company says it doesn’t currently have plans to offer it as a product. The idea is to see what the technology can do, and how people will use it and is a cousin of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer.

The system employs advanced algorithms to translate images designed for a flat computer screen so that they appear properly on the rounded globe. The unit also ingrates an infrared system that can sense when hands or objects are placed on the sphere, to let people interact. In the spherical version of the classic Pong arcade game, people place their hands on the surface to direct the bouncing balls inside the sphere.

Photos can be resized or dragged around the sphere in real time and transported to someone on the other side of the sphere by using a palm.  A potter’s wheel application allows people dip their fingers in virtual paint and press against the static globe as the digital work surface spins. Below is a video of the unit;

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