Although viewing a 3D digital model of an item allows you get a sense of the "real" object, it certainly doesn’t help if you’re looking at that three-dimensional model on a flat screen. That’s why Spheree was created. The result of a collaboration between a group of Brazilian and Canadian universities, it’s a spherical display that users can walk around, viewing a model from various angles as if the object were physically in front of them.

Although it might at first appear to incorporate holograms, Spheree actually utilizes multiple mini-projectors located at the base of its translucent sphere. As the user moves around the display, infrared cameras track their position. The appropriate view of the model is then projected onto the appropriate area of the inside of the sphere, continually changing to adapt to the user’s shifting perspective.

An algorithm is used to keep the pico projectors calibrated with one another, so that their composite image of the object has a uniform pixel density throughout, and doesn’t contain any gaps or seams. Additionally, the algorithm allows for more projectors to be added, if a larger sphere is being used.

One of the Spherees, with its pico projectors visible underneath

Users can also just stay in one place, and rotate or edit the model within the sphere. This can be done either using hand gestures, or a Wii-style handheld device. Alternately, objects can be edited on a linked computer, with the results being viewable on the Spheree.

Several of the team members recently presented two sizes of Spheree, at the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference in Vancouver. A demo of the technology can be seen in the following video.

Sources: Spheree, SIGGRAPH 2014 via IEEE Spectrum