Let’s start out with the wide view. Microsoft envisions pop-up holograms abound and virtually every surface becoming a slick, responsive touchscreen in just 5 to 10 years’ time. The company even made a video that flaunts its prophetic vision, which airs alongside some commentary from Microsoft’s general manager of technical strategy.
The ground road to Microsoft’s always-on future lies in the “Wedge” project its Applied Sciences Group is working on. Wedge is capable of responding to multiple gestures and touches both on and above the screen, and can track the heads of multiple users to provide just the right stereoscopic 3D image to several simultaneous viewers.
Speaking of touchscreens, Perceptive Pixel unveiled an utterly ridiculous 82-inch LCD with a projected-capacitive multitouch screen. It’s utterly ridiculous, and we hope it ends up out of the hands of weathermen and news anchors and into the hands of users sometime soon.
Speaking of touch screens, check out the SkinPut project from Microsoft and some Carnegie Mellon University students. Users wear a sensor armband, and an image is projected onto their hand or forearm. When users tap the image, the armband detects vibrations in the body and can identify what section of the image was pressed — making your skin both a monitor and a mouse at once.
What, using your skin as a multitouch screen isn’t futuristic enough for you? Well, this might just float your boat, instead: another team of MS and CMU researchers have created the OmniTouch, which is a small, shoulder-mounted rig consisting of a pico projector and a 3D scanner. It turns virtually any surface into a touchscreen-enabled display.
It ain’t the future if there ain’t holograms, the Holy Grail of all futuristic displays. A team from USC’s ICT graphics lab actually made a holographic display of a Star Wars TIE Fighter using rapidly spinning mirrors and a projector pumping out roughly 4,800 binary fps at 200Hz.
Samsung’s been taunting us with gorgeous, super-flexible AMOLED screens for years. Could 2012 be the year we actually get them in our abusive little paws? We don’t know for sure.
Speaking of awesome destruction, did you know that you can embed e-ink displays (you know, like Kindles and other e-readers use) on flexible surfaces like cloth or paper and then roll them up or crumple them to your hearts delight – and they’ll still work?
Eon Reality’s TouchLight uses two cameras and a semi-transparent surface to allow users to manipulate projected 3D images in 3D with multitouch gestures. Pretty nifty, actually.
Shinoda Lab’s “Touchable Holography” project makes projects appear in mid-air thanks to an LCD/concave mirror duo, and a custom ultrasound tactile device makes it feel as objects (such as balls and rain drops) are actually touching you.
Don’t forget automobiles! Toyota joined forces with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design to create the “Windows to the World” concept, which turns backseat windows into interactive displays – complete with pinch-and-zoom and the ability to display distances to and names of local items. Maybe one day.
Speaking of cars, Pioneer’s “Floating Vision” technology projects 3D images and allows you to interact with them by simply swiping your hand in space, which could be very useful when driving. Pioneer showed an in-dash display doing just that at the Embedded Systems Expo in Tokyo.
If you like the idea of turning anything into a display, but hate the idea of a shoulder-mounted projector, check out Alexis Zerroug’s “invoked computing” project. Using a complex array of projectors, computers, and speakers, any object can become a touchscreen display with a simple gesture.
What is this, a crappy 1990s adventure game? Nope. It’s the “Virtualization Gate” VR technolgy by INRIA and 4D View. Users don a headset (blech) and interact with simulated 3D environments created by multiple cameras and multiple computers. Despite the head gear, it still looks awesome — you can even create a 3D snapshot of yourself and mess with it in real time.
The person who uploaded a video of the “Hildapromenade 4″ art exhibit by Philipp Engelhardt to YouTube called it “a haunted photo album,” but we call it awesome. If you don’t mind being creeped out, watch it for yourself, then imagine the possibilities for the future!
Everyone in the future should be rocking a triple screen setup at the very least.