Microsoft will next week show off IllumiShare, a new tool that it predicts will revolutionise remote collaboration by making it possible for users to work together on any physical or digital objects, via services such as Skype.
The lamp-like system houses a pair of cameras and projectors to record and display whatever its pointed at, turning any surface in to a shared space.
While existing collaboration tools focus on screen sharing or document sharing, they are only capable of sharing digital content.
IllumiShare lets remote users simultaneously work on any physical or digital object, making remote collaboration a more immersive experience.
The system enables people attending a video-conference to interact with other participants on whiteboards, for example, or it could simply be used to let people play games of noughts and crosses remotely, as the video below shows.
The pairing up of cameras and projectors so that they can be linked using systems such as Skype is not remarkable in itself, but what is clever about IllumiShare is the intelligence that ensures the cameras do not capture the projections.
Sasa Junuzovic, a post doc researcher at Microsoft, and his team at Microsoft's Research team in the US have tested the system using a group of children playing remotely and found that quickly became accustomed to using the shared play space in a natural manner.
The results of the study will be presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Austin, Texas next week.
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