Photokina 2014 highlights

Spheree takes a globular approach to displaying 3D models

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August 26, 2014

Spheree presents 3D models in a fish bowl-like display, which responds to changes in the v...

Spheree presents 3D models in a fish bowl-like display, which responds to changes in the viewer's perspective

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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
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

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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6 Comments

How would a single projection handle the parallax between each eye. I would imagine images look pretty weird when both eyes see the same exact image, but the image rotates when you move.

sk8dad
26th August, 2014 @ 05:02 pm PDT

Actually a head-sized one for telephone calls could be good.

With the face of the person you are talking to projected in it.

'Poor man's' holodeck via Skype or Facetime.

Ozuzi
26th August, 2014 @ 07:20 pm PDT

Real life Crystal balls!

VirtualGathis
27th August, 2014 @ 08:05 am PDT

This system does not provide stereoscopic visual information. Instead, it tracks one observer's POV and dynamically adjusts the video image and repositions the image around the sphere to provide an undistorted view of a 3D modeled object from the observer's perspective anywhere around the sphere. It creates the illusion that the virtual space of the object is inside the sphere. It will not work for more than one observer at a time.

Satweavers
27th August, 2014 @ 11:51 am PDT

how cool! imagine one of these spheres operating inside an 'infinity' mirror!

redjeff53
27th August, 2014 @ 02:29 pm PDT

@redjeff53:

Alas, that will not work. The device does not really build a 3D image; the image is on the surface of the sphere and is seen correctly from one position only. To get the effect you describe (inside an "infinity" mirror), you would need at least two images, on opposite sides on the sphere. You would also need a (nearly) transparent sphere.

Freederick
29th August, 2014 @ 12:56 pm PDT
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