Researchers at Microsoft have combined a Kinect and a 3D projector to spice up videoconferencing with a bit of augmented reality. They're calling their project the MirageTable: its aim is to improve collaboration by creating a shared, interactive workspace for workers who are communicating remotely.

We've seen quite a few Kinect and 3D projector mashups, but the MirageTable is a bit different than the augmented reality Sandbox we checked out just a few days ago. Hold an object in the Kinect's field of view to scan it, and the projector will create a three dimensional doppelganger of the object on the MirageTable's curved surface. The Kinect's purpose is twofold, as it also tracks a users eye movements, to ensure that scanned objects always hold the proper perspective. A pair of active shutter glasses (in this case, Nvidia 3D Vision glasses) are required, for the 3D effect. The projected objects are equipped with some simple physics modelling, and can be stacked, slapped and rolled about, or picked up and moved.

It isn't quite the stuff of science fiction fantasy yet: object manipulation is finicky, and the Kinect can only capture as much of the object as it can see, which makes for awkward texturing. That said, the researchers demonstrated some potential applications for collaboration (or video games), that look rather promising.