By Evan Ackerman
This is a demo of Microsoft’s SecondLight table, which takes their totally awesome Surface technology and adds a see-through dimension that looks like black magic. Or semi-transparent magic, I guess. SecondLight is just like Surface, except it uses a display that switches back and forth between transparent and opaque so quickly that you can’t tell it’s not a completely opaque surface. This switching is synced up with a projection system that projects an alternate image through the display surface whenever it’s in transparent mode. In effect, SecondLight is able to project one image straight through another. When you put a diffuse surface (like tracing paper or plastic) on top of the primary surface, the second image that’s being projected straight through appears on it.
There are other advantages to a surface that’s effectively transparent half the time. For example, a camera can be synced to the transparent periods, giving it the ability to look straight through a seemingly active, opaque display. The camera can see the faces of people sitting around the table, and even tell if they’re looking at the table or not. Or, transparent objects can be placed on the table, and alternate images can be projected through them. Designers suggest that “game pieces, such as chess pieces, designed in this way [could allow] animated graphics to be rendered onto their faces and bodies.” Wow.
Any chance we’ll see this built into Oahu? Um, let’s just go with yes, and keep our fingers crossed.