By Alexandra Burlacu | Mar 02, 2013 10:21 AM EST
Navigating a computer screen through touch gestures is no longer so futuristic, but how about a three-dimensional interface able to recognize gestures?
While this may indeed sound futuristic, the so-called SpaceTop 3-D desktop is actually not so far off.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) grad student Jinha Lee created a 3-D desktop while interning at Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group. Lee showed off his SpaceTop 3-D desktop interface at this week's TED conference in Long Beach, Calif., wooing attendees with the novelty potential.
The SpaceTop 3-D interface consists of a transparent LED display and a two-camera system where one camera tracks the user's gestures and the other watches his/her eyes to automatically adjust the protection.
With this 3-D desktop interface, users can use their hands to interact with 3-D graphics such as documents and Web pages as if they were physical objects. It's unlike anything seen so far.
Xbox Kinect, for instance, uses stereoscopic cameras to allow users to navigate their video game console from their couch. The SpaceTop interface, meanwhile, is designed to allow users to literally put their hands under the computer screen and manipulate the 3-D projections.
Needless to say, being able to manipulate digital objects in 3-D would be very helpful for architecture, engineering and other applications, as it is far easier for users to rotate objects with their hands than with a computer mouse. A computer is still necessary to achieve the interaction and users need to learn specific gestures for controlling the SpaceTop interface, but the technology world seems to be moving toward more intuitive ways of using computers.
Lee currently has no plans to bring SpaceTop to the market, but a company might soon see the potential and choose to adopt the technology, introducing a more natural way of using a computer.
"It shouldn't be in the hands of scientists, it should be in the hands of normal people," explains Lee, as cited by Wired.
Until a company decides to step in and refine the technology, check out the video to see the SpaceTop 3-D desktop prototype in action and get a glimpse of what the future might hold for desktop computing.
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