Microsoft Research Labs, the creators of real-life holodecks and mind-reading stylii alike, have just unveiled their latest augmented reality project, dubbed Semantic Paint. Harnessing the scanning technology of the Kinect, Semantic Paint creates a 3-D scan of the room you’re in, in real time. Initially, it sees the room as a single object, but users can begin labeling individual objects, just by coloring them in.

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For example, if you reach out and touch the chair you’re standing next to, you’ll color it in as effectively as if you used the paint bucket tool in Photoshop. By doing so, you not only change the chair’s color, but teach Semantic Paint that all similarly shaped objects in the room are chairs too, which allows you to apply changes to them in bulk.


Microsoft Research isn’t necessarily selling Semantic Paint as a sort of real-time augmented reality coloring tool. Instead, they say it’s a "fun, interactive way" to give augmented reality and 3-D scanning systems like the Kinect more all-around smarts when it comes to understanding the context in which they are being used.


That said, it’s not hard to imagine how Semantic Paint could be used as a consumer facing product. Changing the paint on your walls, the carpet on the floor, or the color of your upholstery could be as easy as using MS Paint. Hell, slap a Crayola or Pantone license on this tech, and the Occulus-tethered kids of the future can run around the world, coloring it in like real-life Harolds with (virtual) purple crayons.

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