You’ve seen Stephen Spielberg’s film, Minority Report, right? Tom Cruise’s character stands in front of virtual screens, puts on a pair of gloves, and manipulates the data and the memories without touching a thing. Well, the super brains at MIT’s media lab have taken the first step toward that reality, using Apple’s magical device as a display screen and a special glove/attachment combo to interact with it.
The video the group has released shows some pretty fancy stuff, drawing objects in 3D real time, and then manipulating them in collaboration with others. There’s even some slick Minority Report-style interface there, with researches moving red and blue rectangles around in the virtual space they’ve created on the iPad.
According to the project website, T(ether) is a spatially aware display that allows people to interact intuitively with volumetric data. It looks like the iPad camera and that little square attached to the iPad take care of tracking the user’s head position and orientation to manage the virtual 3D space. We’ve seen this type of faux-3D before in augmented reality apps, but never put to such serious use as this.
Not only can you reach into the virtual world and manipulate the objects you create there, but there’s a way to connect with others, locally or remotely, to collaborate within a shared 3D virtual space. Looks like all that virtual reality stuff from the late 1990s is coming around again, only with the iPad, an off-the-shelf computing system with plenty of power for this application.
David Lakatos, one of the researchers involved with the T(ether) project, responded to our email asking about the system. He says, “The iPad is running an app compiled with the Cinder library, which is a C++ wrapper for openGL. We are not using the camera on the iPad – we use a Vicon motion-capture system (used in the film industry) to track the iPads location and orientation. The attached rectangle is what the motion-capture system tracks. By constantly tracking the 5 retroreflective dots on it, we can reconstruct the correct pose (position + orientation) of the iPad. We track the gloves with the same system.”
Check out the video below to be amazed and awed, and let us know what you think in the comments below. We’re ready for our close up, Mr. Spielberg.