MIT is in no shortage of true innovators these days, and the projects just keep on coming. The latest innovation by interaction researcher Jinha Lee involves “the enabling of humans to physically interact with machines to make computing more intuitive” through a transparent computer, allowing the user to reach inside of a ‘box’ and manipulate/adjust the content with their hands. Could this be one of the first ‘true’ steps towards a literal ‘hands-on’ CAD interface?

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Speaking at last week’s TED Conference in Los Angeles, Jinha Lee discussed his (and his small team’s) collaboration with Microsoft and their Kinect technology to develop a system that combines a transparent LCD display with built-in cameras to track gestures and eye movements:

“The gap between what the designer thinks and what the computer can do is huge. If you can put your hands inside the computer and handle digital content you can express ideas more completely.”

-Jinha Lee

The experience consists of users placing their hands behind the screen to scroll or type just as they would on any normal computer, however instead of resting their hands flat on the keyboard or a mouse, they are able to raise their hands and ‘hold’ or ‘manipulate’ virtual 3D elements. Two cameras control the movements, with one used to track typical gestural interface movements such as swiping, pinching, and dragging, while the other tracks the user’s head movements to ensure a proper projection of the display.

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Jinha Lee is no stranger to augmented reality projects, either. Another recent (and impressive) project he worked on recently was WYCIWYW (What You Click Is What You Wear). The idea behind this project is that a user can shop online on a site such as Amazon for wearable item, and through a transparent display virtually ‘try on’ the lastest fashionable accessory. If a user wanted to try on another accessory, they scroll through the list of other items and repeat the process:

While it might be hard for some people to give up their beloved Space Pilot 3D interfaces, this is an amazing step in the right direction for working in 3D space. Keep the fun coming Jinha!

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