July 29 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology Year: 2008 Rating: 3
Microsoft recently unveiled to the mass public a new gadget called the Sphere they’ve been working on in their labs. The video shows some pretty crazy applications that the Sphere could be used for – the most amazing being their ‘earth’ demo which depicts a spinning interactive globe. Check it for yourself:
If there’s one thing this video helps me to realize, it’s that Google Earth would be incredible on this spherical display. But, although it shows some ingenuity and outside-the-box thinking, this display will most likely never make it past being a handy geography aid.
The problems inherent in the Sphere are numerous. Flat displays mean you don’t have to go searching all around for objects on your desktop like photos or open windows. The game function is flat out impossible in any competition-based scenario. The idea that you would have enough time to react to a ball floating over the horizon at a quick pace is laughable (the demonstrator himself has a hard time finding the balls). And as for presentations, a large flat screen will work better as a display tool than a ball of any size.
Despite all those downfalls, you have to admit the darn thing is interesting. The educational possibilities are many with this kind of application, the only issue is size. A spherical display of the night sky around the Earth would be amazing, but only if it was big enough to be inside it, not around it. Even the movie industry might want to take advantage of a spherical display – a true wrap-around movie could attract a lot of patrons. I applaud their efforts, but as far as practical uses of the Sphere in the home, I’m just not seeing it.