Color scientists at the Munsell Color Science Laboratory are bringing a new dimension to computer graphics through a new immersive display system called the tangiBook. Developed by Dr. James Ferwerda, associate professor at the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, and Benjamin Darling, color science doctoral student, the device allows users to interact with virtual surfaces as if they existed in the real world.
The first-generation tangiBook is based on an off-the-shelf laptop computer that incorporates a webcam and accelerometer, along with custom software that tracks the position of the viewer and the orientation of the laptop in real time. Using this information, realistic images of surfaces with complex textures and material properties illuminated by environment-mapped lighting are rendered to the screen at interactive rates. Tilting the laptop or moving in front of the screen produces realistic changes in the surface lighting and material appearance.
The tangiBook can provide enhanced access to collections in digital libraries and museums, allowing viewers to interact in a whole new way. When you visit a museum, you are able to observe the original artwork at a distance; with the tangiBook you can have a more intimate interaction, viewing the piece from different angles and under different lighting conditions. The technology also allows curators or artists to simulate how restorations or treatments may affect the artwork. Similarly, the technology can be used for soft proofing applications to simulate the effects of different papers and finishes on photographic prints.
A second-generation tangiDesk system is currently being engineered for high-performance applications. The research team is also developing a hand-held tangiPod device for the mass market that will provide consumers with interactive 3-D digital swatch books or catalogs of materials like cloth, carpet, and tile whose true appearance is difficult to capture in conventional photographs.