There's a new trend emerging in computing that could breathe new life and some badly needed excitement back to the Desktop once again. The trend involves integrating advanced 3D scanners and projectors into the desktop so that artists of every stripe could unleash their creativity in ways once thought unimaginable. HP just released a next-gen desktop computer that incorporates these technologies and they call it Sprout. This week we discovered a Sony patent filing at the U.S. Patent Office that takes this HP-like concept but applies it to a next-generation video conferencing system experience. It uses a similar tower camera/scanner approach as HP's Sprout does to allow users to share documents, graphics and more in real time with a colleague having a similar system. Sony's system also differs from the HP system in that it utilizes large transparent desktop displays that add a measure of realism to the whole conferencing experience so that you'll swear that the person you're conferencing with is in the same room as you. While today's report covers the basics of Sony's patent, it's really about seeing the bigger picture of where this new trend may be going. Some really refreshing ideas are beginning to surface about the future of the desktop – and it's certainly about time.
A Quick Look at HP's Sprout as a Reference Point
Sony's Patent Background
Remote teleconferencing provides a cost effective way to conduct communications with a person while viewing the person. However, as understood herein remote teleconferencing can feel unnatural when using a phone or tablet computer or even a TV, compared to an actual in-person dialog, since there is no feeling the other person is actually in the room.
Sony Reveals Next Generation Videoconferencing System for Sharing Documents
The present application relates generally to transparent displays with near life-size images for teleconferences.
A transparent ultra-thin panel displays a substantially life-size image of a remote participant during a video teleconference. The teleconference can be a telephone conference or an Internet conference. Each participant device can contain a high resolution steerable camera, a microphone array, and an audio system with digital signal processing (for wide field aural effect) to enhance the feeling of being in the same room for all participants.
Each participant device can use near field communication (NFC) technology to trigger the transfer of the teleconference video and audio to and from an ultra-portable device such as a smart phone or tablet to the associated ultra-thin display. Face recognition and voice tracking may be used to automatically steer the camera to follow user movements.
Accordingly, an assembly includes a processor and a video display configured to be controlled by the processor to present on the video display a demanded image of a person participating in a telephone call. The video display is transparent when no image is presented thereon.
In example embodiments, the demanded image is of a portion of the person participating in the telephone call, and the demanded image is substantially the same size as the portion of the person. The demanded image may be 60%-120% of the size of the portion of the person, more preferably may be 80%-110% of the size of the portion of the person, and more preferably still may be 90%-100% of the size of the portion of the person. Because the display is transparent, local background objects that surround the demanded image can be viewed through the display just as they would be if the person were present locally.
The demanded image can be projected onto the display. The processor may be in a user device having a native display controlled by the processor in addition to the video display that is transparent.
As shown in Sony's patent FIGS. 4 and 5 "caller A" may use a digital stylus #200 to write on a substrate #202 to share documents with "caller B" as follows. As best shown in FIG. 5, an articulating movable desk lamp armature #204 can hold a device #206 that includes an imaging device to image writing on the substrate as well as a projector to project images onto the desk on which the substrate is placed or onto the substrate itself.
When "caller A" writes on the substrate, the device 206 images the writing and sends the image to a similar device on a movable armature 204A at the location of "caller B".
In this way, not only may the two callers share upright facial images of each other with local background visible by virtue of the transparent displays, they may also share documents on a desk with each other. "Caller A" can write on remotely with the virtual pen that adds it to the projected image on caller B's desk while it is also projected on the back on the original while maintaining position when the original document is moved.
Sony's Technology Extends to a Vehicle HUD System
Another aspect of Sony's invention relates to the projector technology for their video conferencing system may also apply to a "Heads-Up-Display" or HUD system for future vehicles.
Sony notes that "NFC pairing between the device and display may be used to trigger video transfer to the display, but the actual video data transfer may occur over a separate link, e.g., Bluetooth, WiFi, or other link. in an example, demanded images from the user device may be presented on the display by means of a projector of the display, which projects images onto the display using, in non-limiting examples, heads-up display principles, such that images may be perceived on the otherwise transparent display 58.
In some examples using HUD principles, a coating may be deposited onto the transparent display, and the coating reflects monochromatic light projected onto it from the projector while allowing other wavelengths of light to pass through. Without limitation, HUD displays that may be used include a solid state light source, for example a light emitting diode which is modulated by a liquid crystal display screen to display an image. Optical waveguides may be used in lieu of a projector, or a scanning laser can be used to display images on a clear transparent medium that establishes the display. Micro-display imaging techniques may also be used.
Sony originally filed their U.S. patent application back in Q2 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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