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 PostPost subject: Microsoft Sphere Video        Posted: Fri Aug 15, 2008 6:37 am 
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Fri Jun 13, 2008 10:22 am

I didn't really think much when I heard about Sphere. Surface was interesting but way too expensive for me to afford. My first thought when hearing of Sphere was "how could possibly be any better than Surface?"

The only thing that I actually thought was cool was the Earth globe...

Source: ... oft-sphere

Back in March when we first got a whiff of the Microsoft Sphere, we were intrigued that the software giant had managed to take the technology used in the Microsoft Surface, and put it to use in a sphere. Microsoft developed the Sphere in conjunction with Global Imagination and officially showed it off late last month. Based on the video demonstration, we concluded that it was hardly ready for prime time, and even if it was, we couldn't think of many uses for it. A more recent video gives a little more insight on the round user interface.

Here are the key points of the software used in the video:

* Photo Browser: basic drag-and-drop movements as well as the two-finger resizing of photos that users come to expect from multitouch.
* Video Browser: videos can be manipulated exactly the same way as photos, both when stopped or while playing.
* Object Auto-Rotation: pushing an image with a finger not centered on the image will cause it to rotate while it slides away.
* Circular Menu: The menu for the Sphere's software, accessible by holding down both hands on top of the Sphere for a second. In this video, the menu contains the following options: RoundTable, Videos, Photos, Painting, Pong, Globe, and Navigation.
* Send-to-Dark-Side: placing a hand facedown on an object will send it over to the opposite side of the Sphere.
* Live omni-directional camera: the Sphere can provide an outward view outside of itself, which includes its surroundings and the user.

The first three are pretty similar to the Microsoft Surface or the TouchWall, so that part of the video was only interesting if you wanted to see how objects were manipulated on a 3D surface instead of a 2D one. Sphere Pong, Paint, and Globe were also demoed briefly, but again, these weren't new either. The video also showed software running on a desktop that allowed the user to see what exactly the Sphere was "seeing" when it was touched: this would imply that there is some sort communication possible between a Sphere and a standard computer.

The projection components consist of a projector, a wide-angle lens, and a diffuse ball (the surface the user works with). The sensing components include an illumination ring (IR LEDs) at the bottom of the sphere, a cold mirror under the wide angle lens, an IR pass filter and an IR camera, as well as an IR cut filter on the projector. The best part was that the Sphere comes in different sizes: 16" and 24" versions were used in the demo, meaning that the software is not very limited. How small or big do you think the Sphere can get?

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