The software giant's newest research project allows people to manipulate 3D images with their hands.

In the last few months we’ve seen some pretty great applications of natural user interface (NUI). It seems fair to say that NUI is becoming more widely used and accepted in its various forms.  But not being ones to sit back and relax, the folks at Microsoft Research (MSR) have been toying with a few ideas they have up their sleeves.

My favorite is Holodesk, a research project out of the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research Cambridge. I won’t attempt to describe what it does in great detail, except to say that with Holodesk you can manipulate 3-D, virtual images with your hands. Whilst this is only a research project at this stage, I can envisage future applications in areas such as board gaming, rapid prototype design or perhaps even telepresence, where users would share a single 3D scene viewed from different perspectives. I know it sounds very Star Trek but this is not science fiction.

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