Proactive Desk II, developed by Shunsuke Yoshida, Haruo Noma and Kennichi Hosaka of ATR Media Information Science Labs, is a "digital desk with force feedback" that can simultaneously apply different forces on multiple physical objects on it.

[Proactive Desk II. Multiple users feeling the walls in a virtual maze.]

Its predecessor, Proactive Desk, enabled force feedback on a desk using two linear induction motors (LIM) -- it worked without using mechanical links or wires. However, Proactive Desk could only apply force on a single object on it.

By the way, Proactive Desk was used for a media art project called Suminagashi, a digital painting canvas with force feedback. "The user can enjoy the process of creating a picture not only with a visual sensation, such as colors, but also with a tactile sensation, such as the feeling of the drawing through the pen and the hands."

[12x12 Linear Induction Motor array.]

Proactive Desk II controls multiple physical objects on it using a 12x12 Linear Induction Motor (LIM) array that is connected to a PC through control boards. A camera mounted over the desk first detects positions of objects and then a computer controls multiple local magnetic fields on a desk. I think it's a quite technically challenging project and the system looks very elaborate and complex (despite my simplistic description.)

Kobito: "Magic" on Your Breakfast Table

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Neon Racer is a multi-user Augmented Reality racing game on an AR tabletop setting. The game displays only the players’ racing vehicles and the checkpoints. The active setting for the game is provided by the physical world, and all its parts can influence gameplay. Physical objects act as collision obstacles and influence the course of the race itself. Participants have to interact with both the virtual and real objects to succeed.


The position and edges of physical objects are detected using a camera and natural feature tracking. Players have to maneuver their vehicles past these objects and through the checkpoints.

Developed by Markus Weilguny, Doris Bernert, Wolfgang Litzlbauer, Ines Stuppacher and Manuela Waldner.

With Gulliver's World, children can create their own theatrical production and allow others to experience it in virtual reality.

With the World Creator, that looks like a model of the planet earth, the user can position mountains, meadows and valleys around the globe. Each of these landscape objects is associated with individual characteristics that have a direct impact on the behavior of the figures that inhabit Gulliver’s World.

The user can modify existing characters and assign characteristics to them.

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In the Greenbox, video sequences of visitors are recorded and then reproduced in miniaturized form on the play level. Moreover, anyone can create a life-size stereoscopic projection of him/herself and appear as an avatar on the play level. A computer vision system captures and analyzes the user’s movements and behavior and transmits this in real time to the avatar, which can thus directly intervene in what’s going on in the game.

Gulliver was developed by the Mixed Reality Lab, the Human Interface Lab of Osaka, the Ars Electronica Futurelab and Zaxel .

Gulliver's World has just been awarded a mention at the World Summit Award.
Images 1 and 2.

PlayAnywhere is a projector and computer vision system that displays interactive computer-generated images without the need for specially mounted cameras: any surface, such as a table or whiteboard, can thus be turned into an interactive input/output display.


Computer vision techniques allow users to use their hands to move, rotate and scale projected virtual objects (game pieces, cards, etc.) A computer, a projector and an image-processing system analyze incoming images from a video camera to realize what is happening on the surface and react. The system also keeps track of sheets of paper in its view and can project images onto them.

Possible applications: a combined sensor-projector-computation pod that a child can set up on the floor, creating an imaginary playfield. Or setting a cup of coffee on the surface and having the morning news flow around it. Every participant of a meeting setting would place their smart card on the surface so that the system could recognize everyone and automatically project their personal documents related to the meeting and each attendee.

A reseach by Andrew D. Wilson.
PDF of the project.

Via TRN.

UPDATE: Jesse Morrison sent me alink to the video.

COOKING WITH THE ELEMENTS: intuitive immersive interfaces for augmented reality environments, a research project by Leonardo Amerigo Bonanni of the MIT Media Lab, looks at what happens if you represent the behaviour of the appliances in the kitchen in a visually meaningful way using augmented reality.

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Limited elbow room and too much information can make following virtual cooking instructions projected into real space impractical and people are better with a paper recipe card. But combining ambience and augmented reality could produce useful peripheral information to kitchen users.

Among his proposals:

- in the "Heat Sink", a light turns blue the moment that the cold tap runs cold but red when the water is hot. This simple proposal Iwas found to cut the amount of time that the tap was left running.
- a cooker that shows flames when hot,
- a fridge that displays falling snow when open (during the tests, 44% of users reported feeling cold and/or rushed to close the freezer door.)

The visuals produced similar levels of comprehension and some environmental benefits - less waste, and less chance of scalds and burns.

"A projected fire costs more than a small red light, but it's better. It's a chance to spice up these mundance appliances a little. It brings back some of the sensory pleasure of cooking without the fire, smoke and other disadvantages," Bonanni said, "but it also changes what people do."

The researcher is now running a test with 20 people in their homes to see if the beneficial effects wear off as the novelty does.

Via Usernomics.

UPDATE: if you speak italian, don't miss the interview of Leonardo Amerigo Bonanni in Gadgetblog.

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