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Microsoft's SurroundWeb displays web content everywhere

by Mark Tyson on 5 March 2014, 11:45

Tags: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Microsoft Research has been beavering away on a system which projects web content on all sorts of surfaces in your living room and lets you interact with it in various ways depending upon the tech at your disposal. The name of the project is 'SurroundWeb' and it is intended to provide users with a "3D Browser" which will provide "immersive room experiences".

If the SurroundWeb project is giving your déjà-vu it might be because it has some things in common with the Microsoft Illumiroom research, which we talked about on HEXUS a year ago. However while both system extend the screen display around the room the SurroundWeb project uses more dimensions and is less for gaming and more for content consumption and interaction, specifically with web pages.

SurroundWeb is said to "give web pages the ability to display across multiple surfaces in a room, adapt their appearance to objects present in that room, and interact using natural user input". Before using the system a user must map out the room and its usable surfaces using a Kinect and its depth sensing capabilities. Also the available screens, projectors and input devices in a room are included in the map. These provide the system with a 'Room Skeleton'. Secondly Microsoft sets up a 'Detection Sandbox' which informs web page servers of the different content areas available in the room so that they are utilised in the best way.

The research team detail several levels of privacy in this 'least privilege' (need to know based) system. For instance a web page renders to fit the room but doesn't learn any explicit information about the room beyond some set of properties required to render. Also the page doesn't know if you are interacting with it using your mouse, keyboard, touch screen or gestures (interaction privacy).

This research shows an interesting way of using multiple displays and inputs which might be how (Microsoft) devices work together in the future. I hope Illumiroom gets developed first though...

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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looks horrific!
looks horrific!

It looks like it has some potential, but I agree. This looks…ugh…
I think the first picture is misleading as it won't have all those highlighted lines around them, as the later pictures show. I like it and this is the kind of innovative thinking that we need.
Who needs to buy a TV again with this, could be interesting if it ever comes to market.
That tabletop display one isn't going to be much good if the projector is overhead. If only Microsoft had something that could display images from below. I bet that would sell like hot cakes! :-D