Stevie Bathiche, director of Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Group, introduces this video from GeekWire by explaining that “it looks like we just took an LCD and took the backlight off, but that’s actually not true. There’s actually been a lot of work that Samsung has done to improve the transmission quality of this display.”

Be that as it may, I can imagine building a fairly cheap DIY version of this device by doing exactly that. The optical transmission quality of your backlight-stripped LCD monitor may not be quite as good as their prototype, but, then, you could always turn on more lights behind it.

Apart from the transparent screen, the system uses two Kinects—one to track the position of the user’s head and adjust the viewing angle of the model accordingly, and a second to track how the user’s fingers are “manipulating” the model in the space behind the screen.

Move the keyboard behind the screen, as well, and the game gets more interesting, as the system can replace the mouse, and its implied 2D desktop model, with a fully spatial metaphor in which lifting your hand off the keyboard gives instant access to a 3D GUI. The video wraps up by demonstrating some of the possibilities. [via adafruit]

Desktop of the future? Microsoft tests transparent PC display with Kinect controls