Microsoft Research shows IllumiShare and blows my mind

Microsoft Research shows IllumiShare and blows my mind

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This was the demo from Craig Mundie’s TechForum earlier today that really caught my eye. IllumiShare enables remote people to share any physical or digital object on any surface. It is a low-cost, peripheral device that looks like a desk lamp, and just like a lamp lights up a surface at which it is pointed and turns it in to a shared space.

To do this, IllumiShare uses a camera-projector pair where the camera captures video of the local workspace and sends it to the remote space and the projector projects video of the remote workspace onto the local space. With IllumiShare people can sketch together using real ink and paper, remote meeting attendees can interact with conference room whiteboards, and children can have remote play dates in which they interact with real toys.

Yesterday, I spoke with Sasa Junuzovic, one of the researchers behind the project. I remarked at how IllumiShare blew my mind because it was so “simple” yet elegant and blindingly obvious. He agreed but then went on to point out how you get to that point – by overcoming some real technical challenges - a key one being “video echo”. With a camera constantly capturing what is on your surface, and projecting, how do you ensure it doesn’t capture what you’re projecting from your surface and re-project it back. That’s where some very smart MSR thinking comes in.

I can foresee a ton of uses for IllumiShare. For example, I showed it to some friends who work in architecture and they wanted it right now. Education uses are obvious, also gaming and business. Imagine being able to capture a document you collaborated on in this way and then load it up again next time you meet.

Endless possibilities!

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  • This is very cool. It reminds me of the ShareTable at Georgia Tech.

  • It would be even better if you could take the combined image and save that.  Imagine a whiteboard where both parties are collaborating, and once you are done, you save off the finished "document" as a record of the collaboration.

  • looks like quite a "magna" prototype, I thought of security for houses with brain wave patterns like a casino, one day security for people will be much better. I hope it works out and isnt stolen or counterfeited. Inventors know its quite a mess. Cheers, Laura

  • It seems like this would be easier to do with two networked Tablets with a stylus... no complex camera, light, workspace requirements.


  • Basically u can do that with Facetime and your iPad hook to a wats the big deal...

    Interesting if the combined it with physical and virtual object remotely.

  • just avoid using paper. some kid of glass or plastic with a marker that you can erase with a simple swype

  • Simple and cool!

    Much better experience than just sharing two tablets, since you see and share all the 3d objects including the remote hands (when sharing a desktop you see the drawings added quite unexpectedly...)