Researchers from the University of São Paulo, in Brazil, and University of British Columbia, in Canada, have developed a spherical display that lets users see and interact with three-dimensional objects. In one demonstration, viewers have the sensation of staring into a snow globe that they can control with simple gestures from any angle.
The device, called Spheree, represents the first display capable of projecting uniform, high resolution pixels on a spherical surface - a technology that also allows users to interact with the 3-D display objects by using gestures.
The Spheree allowed attendees at the SIGGRAPH 2014 convention held in Vancouver last week to play with a Snow Globe 3D animation that included a house, animated snow and a train chugging around the house.
That interactive display required eight pocket-size projectors mounted at the base of the globe, as well as software capable of blending together the individual projector views to create a uniform pixel presentation from almost anywhere on the spherical surface.
Small pico-projectors like the ones used for the demonstration have lower resolution and brightness than traditional projectors - a problem for a virtual reality system that aims for high quality. But the international team of Brazilian and Canadian researchers used an auto-calibration algorithm called FastFusion to seamlessly combine the resolution and brightness of the many projected images without a resulting decrease in quality. A basic webcam allows the algorithm to see the position of the individual projector images on the globe and compute each image's contribution to the overall final image.