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In a keynote speech this morning at the Society for Information Display's annual Display Week conference in Seattle, Steven Bathiche, the research director of Microsoft's Applied Sciences Group, demonstrated an immersive computing system that expand on the company's Surface technology. Surface is a tabletop display that uses a set of four cameras to detect the location of objects placed on its surface, and special software to identify objects. Even with fantastic software, this technology can only do so much.

During his talk, Bathiche played a video that shows what's possible when this concept is combined with better hardware--some nifty (but sketchily explained) optics and a transparent display. Transparent displays can do more than provide heads-up information while allowing you to see in front of you (for example showing traffic information on a windshield). A transparent display can look back at you. Batiche's group has combined a flat lens called a wedge lens with a transparent light-emitting diode display. This system can act as a touch screen; it can also detect gestures made from several feet away.

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