Imagine having a real-time card game with a friend thousands of miles away without looking at a computer screen.
Microsoft Research is showing off IllumiShare, a virtual shared whiteboard that works on any surface. Despite having the innocent appearance of a lamp, the low-cost device actually shares the surface it's illuminating over the Internet. This means you could sketch a portrait with someone else using real paper, or create a real-time dynamic learning scenario that enables a remote tutor to teach a child much more effectively than ever before. You could even play a game of Canasta with your grandmother if you wanted to.
Sasa Junuzovic, a post doc researcher at Microsoft, says the combination of a camera and projector "enables people who are remote to do things naturally and seamlessly." A prototype of IllumiShare shown at Microsoft TechForum 2012 in Redmond, Wash., also features Skype compatibility.