The Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad student earned some notice last year for the ZeroN, a levitating 3-D ball that can record and replay how it is moved around by a user. Now, following an internship at Microsoft Applied Science and some time off from MIT, Lee is unveiling his latest digital 3-D environment, a three-dimensional computer interface that allows a user to “reach inside” a computer screen and grab web pages, documents, and videos like real-world objects. More advanced tasks can be triggered with hand gestures. The system is powered by a transparent LED display and a system of two cameras, one tracking the users’ gestures and the other watching her eyes to assess gaze and adjust the perspective on the projection.
Lee’s new 3-D desktop, which he just showed off at the annual TED conference in Long Beach, California, is still in the early stages. But it lights the way toward the sort of quantum leap that’s all too rare in computer interfaces. It took decades to get from the command-line interface to the graphical user interface and Apple’s Macintosh.