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The Deformable Workspace: a Membrane between Real and Virtual Space


We propose a variant of the multi-touch display technology that introduces an original way of manipulating three-dimensional data. We will call the implemented system a deformable workspace.

The left image illustrates the metaphor of our proposed deformable workspace. The virtual object "exists" and is represented in virtual space, while the user exists in real space, but is not represented (as a whole or in part) in the virtual space. The idea is to maintain a useful and simple relationship between virtual and real space by using a unique coordinate system that is shared by both spaces. Between these spaces lies a "transparent" and tangible membrane. Users can manipulate the objects in virtual space by deforming the membrane and observing the effects on the virtual object (much like a surgeon operating on a patient with gloves).

By doing so, the interface can create the illusion of continuity between the user's real space and the virtual three-dimensional space. The prototype system presented here enables this by employing three key technologies: a tangible and deformable projection screen, a real-time three-dimensional sensing mechanism, and an algorithm for dynamic compensation for anamorphic projection. We successfully demonstrated several applications including 3D translation, 3D manipulation by two hands, 3D freehand drawing, 3D sculpture, and arbitrary volume slicing.



  1. Yoshihiro Watanabe, Alvaro Cassinelli, Takashi Komuro, and Masatoshi Ishikawa: The Deformable Workspace: a Membrane between Real and Virtual Space, IEEE International Workshop on Horizontal Interactive Human-Computer Systems (Tabletops & Interactive Surfaces 2008) (Amsterdam, 2008.10.03) / Proceedings, pp. 155-162. [PDF] *IEEE
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Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory, Department of Information Physics and Computing, Department of Creative Informatics,
Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, University of Tokyo
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