Innovation - The MagicBook
3-D desktop virtual reality. This software and hardware, called MagicBook, allows what is only imaginary to appear real. Imagine, for example, reading a book about the leaning tower of Pisa. Press a button and the tower itself, as big or as small as you like, pops off the page. You can study it in detail or fly through it. You're there, thanks to virtual reality. The uses go far beyond interactive entertainment and could be applied to education, and scientific visualization as well. For example, this technology could be used in a new type of medical textbook that allows students to see a 3-D animated model of a heart instead of a dreary anatomical drawing. The student could even travel through the beating heart to view it from the vantage point of a single blood cell. Or imagine a group of architects sitting around a table with a client. Before them, floating above a blueprint, is a virtual model of the building they intend to build. They could enter the foyer, take the elevator to the 10th floor, and walk around to see what the space would actually look like.
Mark Billinghurst is a Research Associate at the Human Interface Technology Laboratory of the University of Washington, where he is also finishing work on his PhD in Electrical Engineering. In 1998, he was a Research Fellow with British Telecom Laboratories, developing wearable communications spaces for supporting remote collaboration. That same year, Mr. Billinghurst was a visiting scientist with MIT Media Lab, and, before that, he worked as an interface designer and consultant for various companies.
Mr. Billinghurst has been invited to speak at numerous conferences including Microsoft Research, the VECC Workshop on Augmented Reality and Wearable Computing, and Imagina 2000. He also received a 1999 Kodak Distinguished Fellowship.