Bringing “toys to life” by turning real-life objects into digital worlds isn’t anything new, stuff like Amiibos, Skylanders and formerly Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions have made this all possible. But researchers at Microsoft are working technology that can scan everyday items into digital ones without any special computer tech in them.

That’s where Project Zanzibar comes in. The project is a new sensing platform in the form of a flexible and portable mat that is able to locate, sense and communicate with objects and a user’s touch on the mat.

The Project Zanzibar mat uses capacitive sensing and Near Field Communication (NFC) to do this. The mat allows for multi-touch and hover gestures to be combined with physical object manipulation and control.

Microsoft says the platform’s mat is portable because it uses existing devices such as tablets as the display for the interface.

The question driving us over a number of years was how you make interacting with a computer a very natural, invisible thing,” said Microsoft Senior Researcher Nicolas Villar. “Our fascination was with making the technology invisible so that you get the power of technology without it feeling like you are using technology.”

The platform could be used by game developers to create advanced physical/digital hybrid games that are far more advanced than previous “toys to life games.”

“The importance of multi-sensory learning is especially apparent in the Montessori method of teaching, where children use physical objects and self-directed activities for all subjects of learning. We took traditional Montessori exercises for young children and extended them with digital content and feedback using Project Zanzibar.” – the Project Zanzibar Research Team

The team behind the project will be presenting their platform at CHI 2018 in Montreal, later this month.

You can read more about the platform at the source link below.

Source: Microsoft

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