Mirage Table from Microsoft Research Brings AR to LifeMicrosoft Research is home to some of the best technology hacks on the planet, but this one might just take the cake. Combining a stereoscopic 3D projector, a Kinect, and a curved screen, the Mirage Table manages to seamlessly blend the real world with the virtual.
How it worksThe Mirage table has a curved screen which a projector projects on. The curved screen curves around where the head should be, as if it were a sliver of a sphere centered around the user’s head. This allows for some truly compelling 3D effects, in addition to fixing some perspective problems.
A Kinect is used to track the user and anything that they put on the flat, bottom part of the table.
A 3D representation of the user and anything on the table is projected into the curved section of the Mirage Table, as if it were a mirror. Really what the user sees is the result of Kinect processing, complete with depth information. The user’s body is simulated in a virtual world as a collection of balls, providing a collision mesh that can interact with virtual objects and real alike.
Then the user can interact with the table in various ways.
What it doesIn the video, they demonstrate the tech by taking a block and sticking it on a table. Using some control system, they mark that piece as there and then move it. A virtual representation of the piece stays put even while the user manipulates the real world version, which of course is also being displayed in the virtual world. In another video, the user is shown picking up a virtual ball--the user is represented in a physics-based virtual world, so they can interact appropriately.
They use a model bowling pin to lay out a game and then use a ball to knock them over, all in the virtual world. And of course, everything is displayed where it should be, even as you move your head around. The Kinect enables a change in point of view.
These are trivial examples of what a table like this could be used for, and hardly the most compelling use cases. But despite the triviality of it, and the roughness of the examples, the tech is truly impressive to behold.
Watch the video below to get a full sense of what the Mirage Table is and what it can do.