R&D teams combine Microsoft’s Kinect, a screen and a mirror to make science fiction real.

A staple of popular science-fiction is a surface or screen that can detect and understand voice commands and change its display based on your desires. “Hello computer, display the reproduction rates of the modern Asian Tribble over a 15 million year span. Oh, and make me a sandwich.” Sounds impossible right? But the Nieman Journalism Lab – owned by the New York Time – has an ingenious prototype of what they call the “Magic Mirror” that uses the tech behind Microsoft’s Kinect to recognize your voice and display information based on, say, what products are on your toiletries shelf. The mirror can also be used to browse news while you are brushing your teeth or shaving.

Some of the applications of such a screen are downright convenient. “In an off-the-shelf product like Claritin, here, even though it’s not a fancy digital device, it can still participate in information exchanges by virtue of an RFID present in the packaging,” said Brian House, The Times Co.’s Creative Technologist.

Putting the box of drugs on the shelf in frotn of the mirror will call up all kinds of useful information. “It’ll bring up directions on how to take it – it’s a lot easier to read than on the box itself,” continued House. “By virtue of it knowing what my schedule is – and maybe I have a trip coming up, and it knows that I’m using this product – that creates another information intersection that we can use to query our database, and bring up an article that might be interesting.”

The mirror can even display coupons!

The accompanying videos from House’s prototype wouldn’t have seemed possible just a few years ago, but given the huge number of Kinect hack videos I’ve seen over the last year, such a combination of display and interface doesn’t seem crazy or far-fetched. Microsoft’s Kinect technology has gone from a novelty in gaming to creating breakthroughs in almost every field from robotics to artificial intelligence – and now journalism.

The future’s so bright, I have to take a Claritin. You know, allergies. *sneeze*

Source: Nieman Lab

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