Virtual device concept – December, 2011

(URL for video)

Portal display lets you reach inside a virtual world

Portals, a project by a grad student at Art Center College of Design in LA, lets you stick your hand into a display and directly manipulate a virtual world. It’s not really virtual reality, and it’s not really augmented reality. I’m not sure what reality to call it (a parallel reality, maybe), but the potential here is crazy.

The hardware that runs each Portal box is simple: there’s a display, a green screen, and a webcam. When you stick your hand in the box, the webcam captures your hand against the green screen and then throws that onto the display at the front that you’re looking at. The background can be anything at all, although the designer of this project has used Google Street view so that you can pretend to be a GIANT HAND MONSTER.

There’s also an interactive aspect to Portal, since you can take other objects into the box with you, and the system will (eventually) recognize them and make them part of the scene using a touch surface and RFID tags. And since the scene is completely virtual (even though your hand is in there), you can hook two or more Portal boxes together remotely for some multiplayer hand-action.

The designer of this project, Jayne Vidheecharoen, is mostly concerned with getting two Portal prototypes up and running in time to finish her thesis, so it’s not going to get turned into anything that you can buy quite yet. Even so, it’s fun to imagine what might be possible with displays that you could stick your hand into to manipulate what’s inside. Ew, I just knew that’s the first place your mind was going to go, you sick little monkey you.

We’ve got a video for you that shows the Portal box in action, below. It’s from Kickstarter, but the funding period is over (with 190% funding) so you can watch it without feeling guilty.


Comments (2)


Anon on Dec 29, 2011 10:06 PM
Quit trying to be clever and just deliver the information! statements like this are grotesque! “Even so, it’s fun to imagine what might be possible with displays that you could stick your hand into to manipulate what’s inside. Ew, I just knew that’s the first place your mind was going to go, you sick little monkey you.” Reply
Brian on Dec 30, 2011 12:42 AM
Ok I watched it six times and did a survey. It’s offically stupid. Reply
Richard on Dec 30, 2011 10:50PM
They just can’t see it for what it really is. I’ll put it into layman’s for them.

The easiest way to do that is imagine it’s ten or fifteen years from now.

Then, imagine the device as the size of a where house with the hand as a whole body walking into it.

The person has a visual feed through his glasses that shows the virtual world from the inside. Just like above, but from the inside of the box. (In theory, and by the basics, you would just increase the computational speed and power. More speed, power, and storage equals clearer resolution.)

The images  would, change as the wearer does. One way to do this could be to have a camera or two mounted to them that are programmed to film and identify “reference points” while tracking and making adjustments. Perhaps something like an XBox “Kinect” system attached to the wearer. (Once again, just a LOT more math, storage, and computations.)

But, if you want them to really experience it, have them wear a “body sensor.” (A device in development that uses micro electricity to simulate skin to air contact thus giving the sensation of “physical awareness.”)

For hearing and speech? How far do you want to go. Bluetooth good enough?

And for now just leave “taste” alone. (Besides, I hear the food there is pretty bland to begin with.)

Give the thing some time to develop a bit, and you have a “Holodeck” so to speak.

Oh, and if you like, take the thing even further and drop the building, patch the program right into the cerebral cortex, and pull me out of the chair the moment I die here.
How’s that now?

Published on September 7, 2012 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  

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