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Mind-Blowing Interfaces On Display At SIGGRAPH 2009 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the closing-in-on-that-holodeck dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Tech Review has a roundup of some cool, experimental new interfaces being shown at SIGGRAPH 2009, underway in New Orleans this week. They include an amazing 'touchable holograph' display, developed by a team in Japan, which uses an ultrasound device to simulate the sense of touch as the user grasps objects shown in 3D. The other ideas on display are Augmented Reality for Ordinary Toys, Hyper-Realistic Virtual Reality, 3D Teleconferencing and Scratchable Input Devices. If this is the future of computers, sign me up." The conference has also seen the release of OpenGL 3.2 by the Khronos Group.
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Mind-Blowing Interfaces On Display At SIGGRAPH 2009

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  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @10:57AM (#28958685) Journal

    So, you can actually feel something when you touch the hologram?

    3-D PORN.

  • by imakemusic (1164993) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:00AM (#28958735)
    Rimmer will be delighted!
    • by gnick (1211984)

      With the discovery of the hard light drive, Rimmer was in pretty good shape. Still, not much could have been sweeter than the holoship.

      When this goes commercial, my kids are getting bunk beds. Having a holodeck in my house completely outranks the importance of them having their own rooms.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        When this goes commercial, my kids are getting bunk beds. Having a holodeck in my house completely outranks the importance of them having their own rooms.

        They may even agree with you....but you'll have to fight them for the use of it.

    • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:39AM (#28959357)

      puncture repair kit on standby...

  • Augmented reality (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DrgnDancer (137700) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:02AM (#28958757) Homepage

    Ever since I first heard of it I've thought augmented reality is going to be big some day. It's not much more than a toy right now (watching the video, it was clear that there's still a long way to go before it reaches it's full promise), but someday it'll be there. At my last job we used a lot of virtual reality modeling to do experimental training programs (learn to weld without real fire kind of stuff). Augmented reality will be so much better for this kind of thing. Think about it. A welder uses a real (modified) torch on a real piece of metal, but his goggles show the metal heating up and reforming. Or combine it with the tactile stuff from the other example and surgeon uses a "real" scalpel in a real operating room, but sees and feels a virtual patient. You could learn and practice very complicated procedures this way.

    We're no where near being able to build holodecks, but between this tactile display tech and augmented reality we may not have to. Use the real world as your backdrop, put in real things where ever appropriate, and only simulate the stuff that you actually need to interact with.

    • by GauteL (29207)

      While you provide some excellent examples of practical uses for augmented reality, you and I both know that it will mostly be used for entertainment (escaping zombies in your apartment block) or pr0n (that porn star now actually looks like she is in your bed).

    • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:46AM (#28959491)

      The easiest and simplest use for augmented reality would be to label the real world ...

      Wear the special glasses (small and compact, not the prototype bulky ones) and everything you look at gets a label explaining what it is, stare at it and it gives you more detail, museums, art galleries and similar can finally remove labels from exhibits and people can get the more info than those audio commentaries while they look round at random and at their own speed ....

      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:55AM (#28959611) Homepage

        The easiest and simplest use for augmented reality would be to label the real world ...

        Walking down the street -

        "Single"
        "Married"
        "Single with Facebook Profile"
        "Malda's GF - don't touch"

      • I've thought of that, but it's a lot more complicated. To make that work you'd have to have some sort of huge database of what things (for a fairly nebulous definition of "things") are, and hardware and software to interface between the glasses and the database. In something like a museum this could work to an extent, you're issued glasses and a portable interface device (or with small enough circuitry, just really smart glasses)when you go in, and the heavy lifting is done by back room servers that store

        • You mean like google maps has "things" labeled? Like hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. Just one more level of resolution of "things", and it's near what you're talking about.

        • by daenris (892027)

          Sure it'd be great if you could turn your sunglasses into a permanent HUD that gives you information as you want or need it, but the backed programming would be colossal and everyone would have to carry something probably on par with a desktop computer in power to handle the interfacing. I don't think current generation phones and PDAs could handle it.

          That's fine since the current generation glasses are bulky and not good for mainstream use. By the time the display equipment gets to a point where it's easy to use, comfortable, and doesn't overly strain the eyes, handheld hardware will probably be strong enough for the heavy lifting.

        • I've thought of that, but it's a lot more complicated. To make that work you'd have to have some sort of huge database of what things (for a fairly nebulous definition of "things") are, and hardware and software to interface between the glasses and the database.

          It depends more on what your goal is at any given moment. Have you used Google Earth? Tick enough boxes and the map becomes unwatchable, or worse, completely obscured by the olverlayed info. I constantly find my self selecting/unselecting options depending on what I want, i.e. see people's photos of the place with Panoramio, find a business, just see the street lables, watch the 3D models, etc..

          Never mind the fancy HUDs, I sooo want this thing [gadgetell.com], too bad there is no version for WMV yet ='(

          Besides, people are

      • by dissy (172727)

        The easiest and simplest use for augmented reality would be to label the real world ...

        This is where we are at right now. You are correct in that there is a ways to go, but the foundation (of software) is catching up, and the hardware isn't far behind (mainly a cost issue now)

        http://www.ismashphone.com/2009/07/innovative-examples-of-augmented-reality-on-the-iphone.html [ismashphone.com]

        Apologies for the iPhone specific link, but there are multiple examples of apps that use the display/camera to do exactly that. Label the real world, and share your labels with your friends.

        Really exciting stuff!

      • Wear the special glasses (small and compact, not the prototype bulky ones) and everything you look at gets a label explaining what it is, stare at it and it gives you more detail, museums, art galleries and similar can finally remove labels from exhibits and people can get the more info than those audio commentaries while they look round at random and at their own speed ....

        Given the human field of vision, and the ability to swivel my eyeballs around to look at different objects, how would glasses tell wher

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      The holodeck will be mankind's last invention. Once we have them, everyone's goal in life will be to earn enough to own a holodeck and live the rest of their lives in it while having their every whim and fantasy catered to instantly.

      To have a holodeck you would need computers as intelligent as people to play the characters in it. Robots must also be capable of similar intelligence, and so the real world will be abandoned to them as long as they keep generating power to run the holodecks. Since all matter, i

  • by erbbysam (964606) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:03AM (#28958777) Homepage
    I don't really want a display that will cause an explosion in my mind, I'm kinda attached to it...
  • I couldn't really tell from the video, and the article didn't specify. Are the touchable holograms 3D, or are they just 2D images floating in mid-air? I suspect the latter. Still impressive, though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ephemeriis (315124)

      I couldn't really tell from the video, and the article didn't specify. Are the touchable holograms 3D, or are they just 2D images floating in mid-air? I suspect the latter. Still impressive, though.

      It's a 3D rendered object, being projected onto a concave mirror. This gives the illusion of a 3D object floating in space because as you move your head, the perspective of the image changes as well.

      They then use a couple WiiMotes to track your hand and use that data to interact with the image. So you can actually manipulate the image with your hand.

      They also use some kind of ultrasound thing to give the impression of tactile feedback on your hand. So when you touch the image, you feel something on your

      • by kmahan (80459)

        Are there any open source projects doing something similar? Preferably with readily available/buildable hardware to keep the cost down?

  • Holodeck (Score:5, Funny)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:15AM (#28958965) Homepage
    As we all should know from STNG, the 3d touchable hologram is probably the most dangerous entertainment system ever created. The doors never let you out, the holographic characters become sentient, the safety protocals NEVER work and it opens a rift up to places where holographic characters evolved naturally, so they promptly invade. STOP NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
  • by Anonymusing (1450747) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:15AM (#28958973)

    I tap my desk all the time, just as a habit. Wouldn't want my cell phone to interpret that the wrong way -- or, if not my cell phone, perhaps somebody else's. And I wonder about somebody entering the room with a heavy step, or scuffing their feet... could be weird.

    I remember ïseeing Apple's voice recognition demo'd years ago (on a Mac IIfx! yikes, that's old) and the presenter had to address the computer each time. "Computer, close the window. Computer, open Microsoft Word." Etc. Somebody in the audience asked him how that would work in a shared, open, noisy office environment, and he didn't know. He suspected that you couldn't use it on more than one computer, or you might end up directing somebody else's machine to do stuff. "Computer, shut down." Oops. Might the same be true of a scratch interface?

    • by PPH (736903)

      Come in to work Friday morning and yell, "Computer. Format C drive."

      Whoohoo!! Three day weekend while IT reinstalls five dozen desktop systems.

      • Or you get fired and they spend 20 or 30 minutes pushing out new images and another 10 to restore backups of documents...
  • by Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:19AM (#28959029) Homepage Journal

    First, they'll set this up on PCs at home. Then it'll be laptops. Then, netbooks.

    The next thing you know, you're gonna have to dodge a frigging mindfield of idiots walking around having orgasms (cmon, you KNOW this thing is gonna be used for porn) because wearable computers takes off.

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:20AM (#28959039)
    I made it SIGGRAPH last year, but not this year. Its GEEK heaven. SIGGRAPH makes me aware how inadequate current video technology is. Do not be deceived by current large screen HD TVs - technology can do so much better.

    In a nutshell, perfect video technology would be "indistinguishable from looking outside of a window on a sunny day". Thats what human visual systems are designed for. I've seen some experimental systems at SIGGRAPH that start to approach this quality. I hope it doesnt take 40 years to commercialize this like HDTV. I would love to see a theater movie where it felt like I was looking through a window at another world.

    Resolution is probably the best aspect of current video. Beyond about 2,000 scan lines and 4K horizontal pixels, you reallly cant see more, unless it is a very large screen.

    Contrast is perhaps in worst shape. The most impressive videos are those that have contrast ranges over a million, preferably over a billion. Super dark shadows and bright light source appear real then. The best monitors at Best Buy have contrast ranges in hundred thousands, but many are under a thousand. Different contrasts are very noticeable viewing screens side-by side. Sony has an experimental Organic-LED screen with a million contrast that starts to look realistic.

    Current video only fills about half of the human perceptual color space. I've seen six-primary-color systems at SIGGRAPH that approach 80%-90% of the color space. They are very impressive when looking at nature and artwork. Compare a work of art and its best conventional video display and the color inadequacies will be immediately apparent.

    Least is important is 3D in my opinion. It does make things look more real when you look through a window.

    A big issue with enhanced video is that its not just the display device, but the whole video system. You need a camera, a signal representation, coomunication bandwidth, and recording devices that support all the enhanced features. You really cant shoe-horn it in existing systems.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      Contrast is perhaps in worst shape. The most impressive videos are those that have contrast ranges over a million, preferably over a billion. Super dark shadows and bright light source appear real then. The best monitors at Best Buy have contrast ranges in hundred thousands, but many are under a thousand. Different contrasts are very noticeable viewing screens side-by side. Sony has an experimental Organic-LED screen with a million contrast that starts to look realistic.

      This LED-backlit LCD [amazon.com] supposed has a f

      • by peter303 (12292)

        This LED-backlit LCD supposed has a five-million-to-one contrast ratio.

        But then again, how many camera systems have 24-bit dynamic range and is this preserved in current digital compression techniques? Probably not. The whole system has to handle this.

        Back in the 1990s when studios were switching over to digital editing, the advanced companies were a real stickler for 24-bit per color channel standard. The hardware graphics companies claimed this was overkill. It is not overkill where you have adquate monitors and cameras.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          But then again, how many camera systems have 24-bit dynamic range and is this preserved in current digital compression techniques? Probably not. The whole system has to handle this.

          I dunno, but I would imagine they still have enough range to look good on a CRT, which has a really high contrast ratio. Certainly on those occasions I've watched TV on a CRT in recent years I didn't notice any contrast issues like I do with LCDs.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Spy Hunter (317220)

        That's "dynamic" (i.e. fake) contrast. A display with dynamic contrast can turn down its backlight when displaying a black screen, which artificially increases the ratio between the brightness of a white screen and a black screen. However, that trick can't be used when displaying an image that's half white and half black, so the "real" contrast ratio you see most of the time is much, much lower.

        Backlight brightness adjustment is a good feature but it doesn't compare to real high dynamic range. It's easy

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mzs (595629)

          Bingo

          Also I have seen a smaller version of that Samsung LED set at a BestBuy and I was underwhelmed. I brought "A New Hope" on DVD (the bonus disc version that was largely unmodified) and I played it on a BR player connected to the set. The effect of the LEDs during the initial text scroll and star destroyer scene was unwatchable to me in the Magnolia room even though it was much brighter than my room at home. What happened is that rectangular regions would go black then gray once there were enough stars o

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            What happened is that rectangular regions would go black then gray once there were enough stars or noise inside them.

            Oh man. I didn't notice that at all at the store when comparing them. That would be really annoying.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          However, that trick can't be used when displaying an image that's half white and half black, so the "real" contrast ratio you see most of the time is much, much lower.

          Well that depends on the halves. The whole point of the LED backlights is that different parts of the backlight can be individually turned on and off.

          I don't know how fine a 'resolution' the backlight has though it's certainly going to be less than the LCD layer, and I can see where at a certain level of mixed light/dark the technique would f

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bill_mcgonigle (4333) *

        This LED-backlit LCD [amazon.com] supposed has a five-million-to-one contrast ratio.

        Mod me (-1, Obvious), but marketing people and display scientists use different numerical systems. The latter use some carefully calibrated scales and test gear, the former uses blatant lies.

        That Samsung may represent the best of LCD, but I'll bet $5 that it's not really 5x10^6 shades on the scale.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          That Samsung may represent the best of LCD, but I'll bet $5 that it's not really 5x10^6 shades on the scale.

          Pfft, I doubt that too, and doubt that's even just the max brightness:darkness for each measured in ideal conditions.

          • Pfft, I doubt that too, and doubt that's even just the max brightness:darkness for each measured in ideal conditions.

            Yeah, I can't imagine where that number comes from. I've been waiting for an SED set, and those 'only' are offering 100000:1 contrast in the best units, perhaps double what the best CRT of all time could offer. And both have real 'off' states'.

            Oh, wait, maybe they add up the contrast ratio for each sub pixel? :)

    • by jdmetz (802257)
      Could you explain why more than three primary colors are necessary to fill the whole human perceptual color space? Since our eyes only have receptors for three different wavelengths, it seems that we ought to be able to replicate any color with appropriate intensities at each of those three wavelengths. Is the problem with current displays that they don't have exactly the right wavelengths, or is it something else?
      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Since our eyes only have receptors for three different wavelengths, it seems that we ought to be able to replicate any color with appropriate intensities at each of those three wavelengths.

        I'm not an expert on this, but I think the basic reason is that it isn't completely true [wikipedia.org] that our eyes only respond to three wavelengths. Each type of cone responds to a range of frequencies. But the pixels on a screen represent exactly one frequency.

        • by makomk (752139) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @04:50PM (#28963917) Journal

          Yep, that's pretty much right - it's impossible to just stimulate each type of cone individually, no matter what wavelengths of light you use. (As the picture shows, the M and L receptors are particularly similar in terms of response curves.)

            This also means that there are combinations of cone cell response that cannot be produced by any light source - so called imaginary colours [wikipedia.org]. (Yes, *any* light source - no matter what mixture of different wavelengths you use, you can't do it. The eye just doesn't respond that way. Certain optical illusions can produce imaginary colours, though.)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "e "indistinguishable from looking outside of a window on a sunny day". "
      I want it to be better.

      • by Archfeld (6757) *

        Could we even perceive an improvement ? Have to wonder what the upper limit is, and what the bottleneck will be ? the receptor (eye) or processor (brain) or maybe the conductor (nerve system), and how long will it take to upgrade/circumvent...

    • by Gryle (933382)
      In a nutshell, perfect video technology would be "indistinguishable from looking outside of a window on a sunny day"

      Such a feat of technology would be amazing and special effects implications for movie and games is immense. [tinfoilhat]Still, one wonders what that kind of technology could do in the wrong hands: "Why yes citizen, this is the real world. We promise." [/tinfoilhat]
  • by BlueKitties (1541613) <bluekitties616@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @11:34AM (#28959267)
    Not to knock the hologram, but that looked too limited to be very promising. The augmented reality has a lot more promise, considering its only been a few years since we got Haar Cascades for object recognition, and we've already got real-time facial recognition. Screw laser tag, I'm waiting to fight alien baddies.

    Imagine real life way-points for GPS navigation, or mid-air big screen TVs, or general awesome HUD display. A single pair of badass augmented reality glasses could replace all of your monitors (TV, computer, etc) it could give perfect directions (follow the magic glowing green line) virtual computer terminals (say, via an Airport network computer) floating text bubbles for deaf people, insta binoculars, glorified porn, etc.
  • As awesome as these are, I can see where the bottleneck is: display technology.

    These are all cool, but what we really need is the same thing we've needed for a while: a way to produce a good image and shovel that into our visual centers. That augmented reality game will only really be fun if we can wear a pair of lite glasses or point some device at our retina that will produce a display that will both exceed 640x480 and not fry our rods and cones.

    The guy with the $5000+ HMD(likely with a lifespan measur

  • by Nkwe (604125) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @12:30PM (#28960141)
    I can scratch my butt or something else to make stuff happen? Awesome!
  • What advantage does it have over voice recognition? It seems to be the same or similar underlying processing.

  • The first example, I seen a long time ago. A very bad hologram effect that really has little practical use. So, they added motion detection to it. Coupling TWO existing techs is not that mind-blowing. I would have been impressed if the hologram was either bigger, or more involved or the motion tracking had displayed something more. The ultra-sound for touch again has been done, it has also been tried with air, but really, if this is the future, then the future is still decades away.

    The augmented reality TO

    • And the scratching... that is just pathetic. I thought at first that it make a wall into a touch surface. Capable of detecting the POSITION.

      Well I wonder if it couldn't be adapted to give you positional data. Attach two sensors to the wall, and assuming the wall is uniform density and the system is calibrated properly....?

      But anyway, it's still kind of inventive. Not because it allows you to do anything wildly new, but because it's like a touchscreen/gestural interface that can be put almost anywhere very cheaply. It seems like it would be very durable and unlikely to break or malfunction. Sometimes something like this leads to some very p

    • The augmented reality TOY is a joke. Augmented reality MIGHT be worth something but this game is a pathetic example of it. Come on, we HAVE had laser games for YEARS. Also toys that shoot REAL (foam) rockets. Who is going to bother with a game where a simple cowboy's and indian's game takes this long and costs a fortune? Someone should give these guys a pc or console. Shooters have been done, both in the physical and virtual world and with a LOT more excitement.

      I don't think you're excited about it, but I sure am - I mean, this technology has a ways to go, but from the looks I would call it promising. I would love to play scorched earth like this, using AR and my living room to create tanks, simulate the image of the different weapons flying across the room in 3D, seeing furniture get burned and ripped apart, etc. I'm just saying - give me a 6 pack, a couple friends and some AR gaming and we can finally leave Clue behind (finally!)

    • by initialE (758110)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eye_of_Judgment [wikipedia.org]
      Eye of Judgement - an augmented reality game for the PS3

  • I've been to Siggraph a number of times. There are always a lot of creative display devices, virtual reality setups, 3D displays, etc, so that doesn't surprise me. But the scratchable input device is actually really cool: I wish I could get ahold of the source code for that one. Just imagine what you could do to automate your house:

    1) Put one in your favorite TV chair and get rid of the remotes
    2) Get rid of locks and door handles. Only the correct tap or gesture on the wall opens the door. When you've got f

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