IllumiShare project connects physical desktops

The Microsoft Research project uses a camera and projector to capture and share

Attendees at the Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems (CHI) this week saw a device that looks something like a lamp shade and houses a projector and camera, designed to let a worker share a physical desktop with another, allowing the two to collaborate on a project in ways not otherwise possible.

In one example at the show, two attendees were able to draw a picture of a house, with a pen and paper, simultaneously with each person adding different components. On one side, IllumiShare, a project from Microsoft Research, used a camera to capture the desktop and a projector to display the other side's. That means that each person received real time video of what the other side was doing.

To see IllumiShare in action, watch a video on YouTube.

That also presents the problem of video feedback. If left uncorrected, the projected and captured images would cycle in an endless loop, making it impossible to work. Researchers solved that by making sure the camera and projector were both never on at the same time.

"To time multiplex the camera and projector and not see visible flicker we need to do that at 60 hertz," said Sasa Junuzovic, a researcher at Microsoft Research. "What we need to do is simulate 120 hertz where it is going to alternate back and forth."

Switching between the camera and projector created another problem though. By "stealing time" from the projector the projected image won't be bright enough to see. Junuzovic calculated that he could only steal about four milliseconds.

"In our current setup, and because we basically have a webcam, we cannot take a really good image with only four milliseconds of shutter time," he said.

So he added an LED array inside the lamp shade that acts like a camera flash.

"It's off when the projector is on so it doesn't drown out the image and it's on when the camera comes on," he said.

The complicated setup let show attendees play card games, tic-tac-toe with pen and paper and trace each other's hands, but Junuzovic envisions the project to be much more than a toy. He said he plans to build 40 units and send them to Microsoft offices worldwide to see how developers and designers can collaborate.

"They won't have to travel from office to office, building to building or even floor to floor," he said.

The two IllumiShare stations at the CHI conference were on a local network, but Junuzovic said that dependent on bandwidth they could work on Skype.

Nick Barber covers general technology news in both text and video for IDG News Service. E-mail him at Nick_Barber@idg.com and follow him on Twitter at @nickjb.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Barber

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?