Microsoft has been busy demonstrating its latest NUI advances to a group of technology journalists this week.
Microsoft’s chief Research and Strategy Officer, Craig Mundie, held a private tour of the company’s Applied Sciences Group earlier this week. Microsoft is showing off how it is using normal cameras to create 3D scans of people or objects. The company has posted videos of how the technology works. Microsoft’s 3D talking heads form the basis of its upcoming Avatar Kinect feature, due to debut on the Xbox 360 in the Spring. Microsoft uses 2D images from webcams or the Kinect sensor to create a 3D model of a face that can then track head movements and portray them on a virtual 3D avatar.
Microsoft has also been demonstrating its latest NUI work on prototype smart display technologies. Steven Bathiche (Stevie B), director of Microsoft’s applied sciences group and responsible for the Surface computer, demonstrates new prototype technologies that make use of new camera systems. Bathiche refers to the company’s Office Vision Video that shows how children can interact with two different sides of a large pane of glass. Bathitche demonstrates how close Microsoft is to achieving this vision and says that the company may start rolling out parts of the technology in around six months according to TechFlash.
Bathiche also demonstrates “wedge lenses” that can pick up activity above a surface using cameras mounted below a flat screen. The wedges are used to transmit light back out the other way as two separate images to create an auto-stereoscopic image to allow for glasses-free 3D in displays. CNET reports that the technology is similar to some TV manufacturers like Vizio.
The technology is impressive and shows that Microsoft is fully committed to Kinect in areas outside gaming. Microsoft said this week that the company plans to issue an official SDK for Kinect on PCs. The company hopes that its move will unleash a wave of creativity across the industry. Microsoft’s latest research work that could be available in just six months means the possibilities for Kinect are endless. Microsoft is betting big on Kinect and that bet will pay off with the upcoming integration in Windows 8 later this year.