Microsoft shows off their transparent 3D desktop prototype

We think most would agree that the Microsoft Kinect is a miraculous piece of hardware. The affordable availability of a high-quality depth camera was the genesis of a myriad of hacks. And now it seems that type of data is making an intriguing 3D display possible.

What you see above is a 3D monitor concept that Microsoft developed. It starts off looking much like a tablet PC, but the screen can be lifted up toward the user whose arms reach around it to get at the keyboard underneath. There is as depth camera that can see the hands and fingers of the user to allow manipulation of the virtual environment. But that’s only part of the problem. You need some way to align the user’s eyes with what’s on the screen. They seem to have solved that problem too, using another depth camera to track the location of the user’s head. This means that you can lean from one side to the other and the perspective of the virtual 3D desktop will change to preserve the apparent distance of each object.

Don’t miss the show-and-tell video after the break. As long as there’s only one viewer this looks like a perfect non-glasses alternative to current 3D hardware offerings. Continue reading “Microsoft shows off their transparent 3D desktop prototype”

Think you can take Kinect to the next level? Check out Kinect Accelerator

kinect-accelerator

If you’ve got a crazy ingenious idea for Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral, but don’t have the means to make your dream a reality, the Kinect Accelerator just might be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Microsoft, having performed a complete 180-degree turnaround from their initial stance on Kinect hacking, is embracing developers more than ever with this new program. They are offering a $20,000 along with development space to ten startup companies, in hopes of turning out some incredible Kinect applications. At the end of the three month program, each group will have the opportunity to present their creations to a group of angel investors, which is a fantastic opportunity.

Obviously competition to gain entry into the program will be pretty fierce, but if you think you have what it takes, get your application in now. Judging by the Kinect Accelerator FAQ section, this looks to be something geared towards small tech startups rather than individuals, but it never hurts to give it a shot.

A Kinect Primer

Yes, the Kinect is over one year old now, and after some initial unhappiness from [Microsoft], it’s become a hacker’s best friend. [Eric] decided to celebrate this with an Article all about how it works.  If you’re new to this piece of hardware and want to get into working with it, this should be a good hacking introduction.  If you’ve been reading [HAD] lately, you will have noticed this information being used to “build a Kinect bot for 500 bones.”

Some interesting facts in this article include that the Kinect measures 307200 distance point, known as a “point cloud” in the gaming area. From this, it’s able to construct a 3D image of the environment around it and allow interaction. Such interesting hardware didn’t take long to hack after Adafruit announced a $3000.00 bounty to open it up to the masses.  This only took four days to do, making one wonder why, with their incredible resources, [Microsoft] wouldn’t either more effectively lock it down or officially open it to be hacked and modified to begin with. Our vote would be to officially open it up, but no one consulted us on the decision.

Microsoft’s attempt at an Arduino killer — feels like a gimmick

Microsoft has thrown its hat into the open source hardware hobby market. Their offering is called the Gadgeteer. We’d love to tell you all about it, but the big M didn’t make it very easy to find out about the device and it’s addons. When we set out to find what processor is running on the board we were happy to see that they do call it an Open Source Hardware project, but no schematic is posted. When we did finally navigate to the hardware documentation it’s a file that must be downloaded and you’ve got to agree to their licensing before grabbing it. So that’s as far as we went, and now we’ll go back to using more open tools.

For those of you who aren’t scared off by the lack of openness, the first thing you’ll notice about this board is that it’s full of connector headers. Instead of the small rows that Arduino uses, the Gadgeteer is meant to use ribbon cables to connect to various breakout boards. You can program for the platform in C# using the .NET framework. This means using Microsoft Visual Studio for those that are already acquainted with the platform. But regular readers will note that we’re always looking for Linux support in our IDEs and you won’t find that here.

[Thanks Hrasdt (and several others) via Slashdot]

Did Microsoft steal the Kinect?

In 2009, while Microsoft was busy designing and marketing what would become the Kinect, [Carlos Anzola], an inventor, tinkerer, and self-ascribed geek from Bogotá, Colombia, had been working for years on a nearly identical gesture interface for the PC. His creation, the Human interface Electronic Device, or HiE-D – pronounced ‘Heidi’ – was capable of gesture recognition years before Microsoft would release the Kinect.

After developing his gesture recognition device in 2007, Microsoft showed interest in [Carlos]’ device – going so far as to request a prototype. Microsoft suggested that he should apply for a patent on his technology. [Carlos] did just that, sending in patent applications to both the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization a mere two days before the announcement of Project Natal and a full seven months before Microsoft applied for their Kinect patent.

Since the release of the Kinect, [Carlos] has been showing the HiE-D around Bogotá and has put a few videos of his technology up on Youtube, one of which can be seen below. You can also check out his Youtube channel for some great demos.

Continue reading “Did Microsoft steal the Kinect?”

Microsoft Points algorithm cracked… they’re out $1M

Looks like someone figured out the algorithm that Microsoft uses to generate unique codes for their alternative currency: Microsoft Points. We were always a bit baffled by the need to do this sort of thing (Disney dollars, tokens at arcades, etc.) but figured it’s just a grift to get you to spend more dough. Looks like this time it may have come back to bite them in the ass with early loss projections somewhere in the $1-$1.2 million range.

But as most of you know, it’s not just an algorithm that can cause this kind of havoc. Whomever figured out how to crunch the numbers apparently packaged the method into a nice GUI and distributed it over the Internet. Check out the video after the break to see that not only will it give you a code, but you can verify that it works at the click of a button. Microsoft is taking steps to invalidate all of the ill-gotten redemption codes, but we wonder how effective they can be at it. Surely they already had contingency plans for this and we wonder if the company didn’t also carry insurance against this kind of loss.

Try as we might, we couldn’t turn up a press release on the subject. If you know of any, please be kind and leave a link in the comments.

Continue reading “Microsoft Points algorithm cracked… they’re out $1M”

CES: Microsoft Hacks Up Next OS as SOC

With the Pre-CES Keynote made by [Steve Ballmer], the announcement came that the next iteration of their operating system being available in SOC specific form.  This will lead to windows being able to run a very diverse hardware set in a much more efficient manner than it does right now.  Microsoft displayed 4 different versions of what the next generation prototypes are from 4 different manufacturers but there has been no work done yet on the GUI for SOC as [Ballmer] was very clear to mention that more than a couple of times.  Some photos of the prototypes can be found after the break!

Continue reading “CES: Microsoft Hacks Up Next OS as SOC”