ID Magazine had a chance to chat with Steve Bathiche after his keynote address at SID this morning. Bathiche is Director of Research, Applied Sciences Group, Entertainment and Devices Divison at Microsoft, and I'm sure the job comes with plenty of responsibility but frankly, it looks like a lot of fun.
Bathiche is involved in interactive display development at Microsoft, and his talk, "Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Next Generation of Interactive Displays" featured videos of some highly interactive displays that went way beyond multitouch. The fourth wall, in theater parlance, is what separates the audience from the world of the play, and an actor who interacts with the audience is breaking the wall. Bathiche imagines that for future interactive displays, the "wall" between the user and the plane of the display will be broken. Imagine reaching "into" your screen and "ripping up" the Word document you're frustated with. Or a child in the US and one in India standing on either side of a virtual, transparent "display wall," drawing objects together and sharing concepts in two different languages.
With regard to the here and now of interactive displays, that is represented at Microsoft by its Surface platform, for which more than 100 partners are now developing, Bathiche told ID. Still in prototype but very real is the "Wedge" a specially curved piece of plastic with a camera on one edge that works behind a transparent LC or OLED display to provide (with the help of software) new levels of immersive activity. And far off in the future, so far off that the video Bathiche showed of people strolling through environments with floating displays they could interact with, was done with "smoke and mirrors," he said, is a world of complete, seamless interactivity. These concepts, Bathiche hastened to say, were real, and he was especially pleased to speak to the SID community about them both to inspire and be inspired. "This is a dream we can make happen," he said. -- J. Donelan