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Microsoft's 'Beamatron' combines a projector with a Kinect to augment reality

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Microsoft Research has shown off a tech demo of the "Beamatron," a new augmented reality system. Unlike many other augmented reality systems that require users to look through a portal, such as a smartphone, Beamatron senses depth and projects virtual objects into the real world.

microsoft research beamatron
microsoft research beamatron

Microsoft Research is continuing its trend of showing off some pretty cool demos, this time with the "Beamaton" augmented reality system. Unlike some other AR experiences, Beamatron strips away the layer of abstraction that comes from looking at the augmented world through a portal, such as the screen of a smartphone or PS Vita. Instead, the system uses a projector and a Kinect sensor on a motorized pan-tilt head to project virtual objects into the real world. Beamatron is able to create a depth map of the physical space around it using the Kinect Fusion software, allowing it to alter the projections to preserve their form on various physical shapes. What's more, the projections can react to the physical dimension of the space, such as colliding with obstacles or falling off elevated surfaces.

In the demo below, a virtual remote controlled car reacts to driving over ramps or people's feet as you'd expect a real car to, and is even stopped by physical walls. In terms of practical use, Microsoft mentioned that they could see the system used to project notifications onto surfaces of a room, making sure that they are always in an individual's line of sight. While we're not too keen on being unable to escape notifications, we'd gladly take that car for a spin.