Microsoft is working on a browser that can display web pages on several walls at once. Using hardware, the browser first scans the room for suitable surfaces and then displays information from web pages on those surfaces.
The browser will not be available for the time being. It is a project of Microsoft Research, but already exists in the form of a prototype, Microsoft says in a paper. For example, the different screens allow users to project a chat window next to their TV, making it easy to see if new messages are coming in while watching TV. Microsoft also gives examples of projecting open windows above the TV to create the illusion of space.
SurroundWeb consists of a prototype and software. The prototype, presumably a projector or combination of several projectors, scans the space in search of surfaces to display objects on. It makes a screen from all usable surfaces and assigns them a resolution of up to 1440×720 pixels.
The intention is for web pages to provide support by addressing the SurroundWeb API, after which the system chooses what is displayed on each screen. HDTVs, smartphones and tablets can also be part of the set-up. Users can interact with web pages in ‘natural gestures’. SurroundWeb converts those into actions that websites understand, such as mouse clicks.
Microsoft says in the paper that it is aware of the risks of the technology. For example, as long as no privacy controls are built in, websites can have access to the scanners. With this, for example, sensitive documents can be read or prices in web stores can be adjusted to the price of items that are already in a room. Microsoft tries to overcome this with a sandbox, so that sites can never know whether and which objects are present in a room. Thanks to this sandbox, websites can, for example, dynamically adapt spot colors of websites to the interior. The technology is reminiscent of another Microsoft project, Illumiroom, for projecting images behind the TV when playing games.