Microsoft has presented a sphere-shaped touchscreen called Sphere.
After months of rumors, Microsoft researchers are taking the wraps off a prototype that uses an internal projection and vision system to bring a spherical computer display to life. People can touch the surface with multiple fingers and hands to manipulate photos, play games, spin a virtual globe, or watch 360-degree videos.
Sphere, as it's known, is expected to be shown publicly for the first time Tuesday at Microsoft's Faculty Summit in Redmond. For now, it's purely a research project. The company says it doesn't currently have plans to offer it as a product. The idea is to see what the technology can do, and how people will use it.
"It's really an exploration of ideas," explained Hrvoje Benko, the Microsoft researcher spearheading the project, during a sneak preview Monday afternoon.
Sphere is a cousin of the Microsoft Surface tabletop computer, already being used in retail and hospitality settings. The underlying hardware for Sphere is sold commercially by Global Imagination of Los Gatos, Calif., but Microsoft researchers made numerous enhancements and developed specialized software.