Whether you're surfing the Web, scrolling though your iTunes library or trying to find that spreadsheet for your boss, all of your day-to-day computer interactions exist in a two-dimensional realm. But it's about to go 3-D. A transparent computer lets users "reach inside" and move files and data with their hands.
The SpaceTop 3D computer, developed by Jinha Lee, a grad student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was unveiled last week at the TED conference in California.
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The system uses a transparent display equipped with two cameras - one that tracks users' gestures and one that tracks the eyes to evaluate one's gaze. This second camera helps adjust the perspective of the projection one sees when looking through the screen. Imagine reaching under your monitor and seeing your hand going through a list Web pages like you'd they were physical documents in a file cabinet. You would simply place your hands behind the screen to type, manipulate icons and handle documents.
"If you somehow allow computers to accept different types of modalities in the same workflow, that will be much more effective," Lee said in an interview, according to Wired.
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While still in its early stages, Lee's system could represent, as Wired's Ryan Tate noted, a sort of quantum leap in computer interfaces should it go mainstream. Whether it does or not, Lee's system is a bridge between the physical and digital realm. This union will permit more automated physical interactions - something Lee calls "programming the world."
"Programming the world will alter even our daily physical activities," he told the crowd at the TED conference. "With our two hands we're reaching into the digital world."
Credit: Jinha Lee