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SIGGRAPH-Emerging Technologies

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By Paige Donner
More of a playground for creative-tech geeks than an exhibit, SIGGRAPH 2007’s Emerging Technologies Media showcased such exotic new technologies as as new motion capture markers, sound devices, and tabletop computers.
The exhibit received 75 submissions from countries such as France, Hungary, Japan, Korea and Sweden, and 23 were chosen based on the criteria of “most thought-provoking and technically proficient” by an elite group of industry experts.
Among the highlights of the exhibit:
•    Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs in Cambridge, Mass., presented Prakash, marker tags for lighting-aware motion capture for dynamic virtual sets. Each marker has a unique ID and works in ambient light, with natural clothing, offering an inexpensive, real-time on-set motion capture technique with an unlimited number of tags. The tags are worn under actors’ standard wardrobe with only sensors exposed for simultaneous filming and motion capture under studio lights or outdoors.
•    MIT Media Lab and Alium Labs unveiled The Sound of Touch, a new instrument for real-time capture and physical stimulation of sound samples using digital convolution. The hand-held wand is used to record sound, then plays back the recording by brushing, scraping, striking and otherwise physically manipulating the wand against physical objects. During playback the recorded sound is continuously filtered by the acoustic interaction of the wand and the material touched. The materials provided for demonstration ranged from small pebbles, artificial turf, tiny metal balls and a coarse bristled brush. The wands varied from a metallic soft brush to a wide, flat-edged flexible knife. Each produced its own variations of sound based on variables such as the texture the wand is applied to, the pressure applied, and the motion used.
•    Microsoft Surface turns an ordinary tabletop into a dynamic computing surface that provides effortless interaction with all forms of digital content through natural gestures, touch, and physical objects. It works without a mouse or keyboard and allows people to interact with content and information individually or collaboratively with friends and families. Microsoft plans to make Surface available to the public in hotels, retail establishments, restaurants, and entertainment venues by the end of this year.

Written by Paige Donner

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