Microsoft Research recently held TechFest 2013 — an event showcasing research projects from Microsoft Research’s labs around the world. And, although the event’s website requires Silverlight and isn’t the easiest thing in the world to navigate, it’s worth a look — it’s full of all sorts of future-looking research and explorations. (Or – use their own cheat sheet with quick links to project videos.)
Body Avatar (video) is lets users create avatars using a Kinect-based interface. It’s a great way for users to create 3d avatars using themselves as the starting point. From there, it’s easy to add more arms, tails, strange extras, and then decorate the avatar with paint. It’s a kind of 3d-modeling from within the shape you’re creating. Really cool.
In Toward Large-Display Experiences there are some interesting glimpses at how people can interact with large displays — both using just the display, as well as with second screens. There are examples of also using a special “pen” although, with a Kinect recognizing that the users are doing, I”m not sure I understand the need for it.
SandDance (video) is a large-scale data visualization tool that lets users go beyond the initial impressions, and discover the real meaning in the data. Plus, with a second-screen, multiple views can be manipulated simultaneously.
There’s lots more stuff to explore on the site. It reminds me of watching student thesis presentations — research explorations that are ripe for real-world use.