Shahram Izadi, 33
An intuitive 3-D interface helps people manage layers of data
Microsoft Research U.K.
Shahram Izadi wants to make interacting with computers more natural. For one of his touch-based interfaces, the research scientist has improved on Microsoft's already impressive touch table, Surface, to present information in a completely new way.
Surface projects infrared light and detects its reflection from fingers or other objects that are on or above a screen, enabling users to work with data displayed on the screen. Izadi's variation, called SecondLight, uses a second projector and a switchable diffuser to add another physical layer of data.
The system projects one image on the table's surface and a second, hidden image above it; passing a semiopaque object over the table reveals the second image. For instance, a user who holds a sheet of paper over an image of a human body might see the bones of the skeleton. Ultimately, Izadi envisions specialized tablets that could interact with SecondLight to facilitate collaboration; doctors working on the same patient, for example, could each add or view new data. --Kristina Grifantini
Double vision: Beneath the screen are liquid crystals that rapidly switch from transparent to opaque. Two projectors underneath send out images in sync with the switching; in this case, the night sky appears on the table, with constellation names appearing above.
Courtesy of Microsoft Research