Students are the ones who come with the craziest ideas, most of the times. While a spheric display that employs Kinect sensors and a 3D HD projector may not be very functional, it still represents an innovation.
Several master candidates from Queens University revealed yet another Kinect project at CHI 2011, a convention held between May 7-12 in Vancouver, BC. This time, it is a spherical display that resembles a snow globe. Basically, the sphere includes a hemispherical mirror at the top, and with the help of 2 Microsoft Kinect sensors and a 3D HD projector, objects can be displayed in three dimensions inside the sphere. The dome mirror is used for reflecting the projection. The spherical display is made from 1/4 inch acrylic.
The image looks like a hologram, which is certainly something impressive. John Bolton, one of the master candidates involved in this project, claimed that the focus of the team is to provide a different experience than when using a flat screen. Objects “nested” inside the display can be rotated by using hand gestures in front of the Kinect sensors. It is also possible to zoom in and out. Waving will determine the projector to display another object.
However, I do not see this going mainstream any time soon, mainly because of the fact that “Project SnowGlobe” can only be used by one person at a time. Still, it could prove to be useful for displaying maps and the like, especially if we consider the ability to zoom in or out. According to John Bolton, various other form factors will be used in the future, in order to determine which one offers the best advantages. A smaller sphere or a cylinder represent the first two options, but others may be taken into consideration, too.