Imagine looking at a hologram of real-time Bing search queries projected in thin air or against a wall. A point of your finger or the wave of your hand enables you to scroll through the ranking of nearby stores, restaurants and more. Click on a Google Shopping ad, which takes you to the retailer's site to get a 360-degree view of the item. It's not far off. In fact, Microsoft's Room2Room augmented reality makes me believe we're one step away.
Augmented reality projects a digital image on a physical image, projecting a hologram. The Microsoft Research team developed a method to use this technology to make video calls. It that allows people to see the digital image of the person they speak with during a video call. The technology projects a life-sized 3D image of the person in your room, rather than a small one on a computer or smartphone screen.
The Room2Room project relies on digital projectors and Kinect depth cameras to capture the image of a person. It projects a life-sized 3D version in real time, explains MIT Technology Review. Kinect is the same technology used in Microsoft's gaming platform. Each person speaking on the video phone can then see a digital image of the other with the correct perspective, look at the other person from different viewpoints, and interact accordingly, according to researchers.
The concept uses a project Microsoft calls RoomAlive, not just to take one projector or camera, but link many in a room. They can calibrate each other to understand the depth of field of the room to create an augmented reality experience that adapts to the environment.
The project is still in the pipeline and there is no set date announced by the team for its launch, but the team will submit a paper on the project at the Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing conference in San Francisco at the end of February.
The research makes zero mention of projecting a holographic image of a search query on a wall that allow someone to interact with it in real-time, but I couldn't help but wonder the opportunities this would bring for a household tool and improved customer experience.