Photon Paint I & II, Spectra Color (1987-1989)

Photon Paint, was an image manipulation & drawing application, first released in 1987 for the Commodore Amiga, followed by Photon Paint II 1988 and later by Photon paint Macintosh.

Developed by Bazbosoft (Oren Peli, Eyal Ofek & Amir Zbeda) and distributed by MicroIllusion, It has been purchased by ~33% of all Amiga owners in the world!

ZCAM (1996-2003 – World First TOF RGBD camera

ZCam was the first video of time-of-flight camera products for video applications by Israeli developer 3DV Systems. The ZCam supplements full-color video camera imaging with real-time range imaging information, allowing for the capture of video in 3D. The company was bought by Microsoft and the technology was incoporated in Hololens. 

I was in charge of all software and algorithms for the camera and its application from its start at 1996 till 2004.


NAB 1999 – Best of show.

Videography 1999 – Editors Choise

Television Broadcast 1999 – Editor’s Pick

Advance Imaging – Solution of the year 1999.

JVC, Wikipedia, WideScreen Review

World First StreetSide Service (2006) Street Side Technical Preview – Feb. 2006

4 months after moving from Microsoft research to Virtual Earth we released a technical preview that showed Street Side images in Seattle and San Francisco centers. The preview allows the user to ‘drive’ a car in the streets, and view images of the streets. This was first on-line service for immersive 360 experiences of street. All the project was developed by me, with the help of B. Snow (web page programming) and R. Welsh (Graphic design).

Automatic geo-positioning of Flickr’s images (2010)

M. Kroepfl and myself worked on a matching user images (both with initial guess for location, as well as general ones) to Bing maps street images. The result was shipped as a Bing Maps application on Feb 2010, and was shown at TED 2010. 

TED talk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas.

Geek in Disguise, Search Engine Land, Tech Flash, Bing Blog, Flickr

Semantically tag maps with crowd data (2010)

I worked on attaching semantic tags to maps based on labels such as found in Flickr™ images. A service that is based on this work was demonstrated at Where 2.0 2011 and is accessible on the web.

Microsoft Touch Mouse (2011)

Microsoft Touch Mouse – Aug. 2011

Although I was NOT involved in the development of the product, it is based on a work, started by Hrvoje Benko and myself,  and was later incorporate in our UIST paper, and in our Patent. 

Illumiroom (2013)

IllumiRoom is a proof-of-concept system from Microsoft Research.

It augments the area surrounding a television screen with projected visualizations to enhance the traditional living room entertainment experience


FLARE (2014)

Flare is a rule-based system for generating object layouts for AR applications.

Part of its technology is incorporated into Unity Game engine’s project MARS.

Room Alive 2014

RoomAlive is a proof-of-concept prototype that envisions a future of interactive gaming with projection mapping. RoomAlive transforms any room into an immersive, augmented entertainment experience through the use of video projectors. Users can touch, shoot, stomp, dodge and steer projected content that seamlessly co-exists with their existing physical environment. RoomAlive builds heavily on our last research project, IllumiRoom, which explored interactive projection mapping surrounding a television screen. IllumiRoom was largely focused on display, extending traditional gaming experiences out of the TV. RoomAlive instead focuses on interaction, and the new kinds of games that we can create with interactive projection mapping. RoomAlive looks farther into the future of projection mapping, and asks what new experiences will we have in the next few years.

 Description at Projection Mapping. Video

RoomAlive toolkit (2014)

An open source SDK that enables developers to calibrate a network of multiple Kinect sensors and video projectors. The toolkit also provides a simple projection mapping sample that can be used as a basis to develop new immersive augmented reality experiences similar to those of the IllumiRoom and RoomAlive research projects.

The RoomAlive Toolkit is provided as open source under the MIT License.

The code is available for download at GithHub:

B. Lower and A. Wilson gave a talk on the RoomAlive Toolkit for BUILD 2015.

Haptic controllers (2017-current)

Haptic Controllers (2017 – current)

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have progressed dramatically in the past 30 years. Today, we are able to wear a consumer head-mounted display and experience fantastic worlds, populated with rich geometry and beautifully realistically rendered virtual objects. 3D audio plays sounds in our ears, as if they are generated by virtual sources in space and may adapt as we move around the space. However, whenever we try to reach our hand and touch any virtual object, the illusion will break it is only a mirage, and our hand will end up touching or grasping air.

Compared to visual and audio rendering capabilities of consumer devices, their tactile offering is mostly limited to a simple buzz – a vibration feeling generated by an internal motor or an actuator, buried inside the controllers. Although there are much research works that aimed at rendering different tactile sensations, they have not managed to reach consumers. Reasons for that are many, laboratory prototypes such as exoskeletons, and other hand mounted devices may require a cumbersome procedure to fit to users, put them on or take them off. Many prototype devices can simulate only a specific sensation, such as texture, heat, weight that may not be general enough to attract users. Complex mechanics that involves a multitude of motors may render the device too expensive, too big or too fragile to be a consumer product.

We have been exploring a number of ways in which technology can generate a wide range of haptic sensations that may fit within held Virtual Reality controllers, not unlike the ones currently being used by consumers. Enabling users to touch and grasp virtual objects, feel the sliding of their fingertips on the surface of the objects and more. The ultimate goal: Allowing users to interact with the virtual digital world, in more natural ways than ever before.

SeeingVR Toolkit (2019)

Current virtual reality applications do not support people who have low vision, i.e., vision loss that falls short of complete blindness but is not correctable by glasses. We present SeeingVR, a set of 14 tools that enhance a VR application for people with low vision by providing visual and audio augmentations

The code is available for download atGithHub .

Video, Demo at Microsoft Research Faculty Summit 2019, SeeingVR. Zhao et. al/ CHI 2019

Related publications

Virtual reality without vision: A haptic and auditory white cane to navigate complex virtual worlds (2020)/ Siu, et al. CHI 2020 Honorable Mention paper. 

Accessible by Design: An Opportunity for Virtual Reality/Mott et. al. 2019 Workshop on Mixed Reality and Accessibility

VR & AR in the wild (2014-Current)

New inside-out tracking HMDs allows users to wander through large environments using continuous inside-out optical tracking, opening the opportunity for applications to spread over large spaces and time intervals. For example, a user may play a multi-player game over multiple rooms or outdoors, or a group of workers may wonder through a large space and share the same content. We explore the technologies required to enable this future, as well as some vertical example applications.

Related publications

SurroundWeb: Mitigating Privacy Concerns in a 3D Web Browser. IEEE Security & Privacy 2015

Spatial Constancy of Surface-Embedded Layouts across Multiple Environments 2015


Generating On-The-Fly VR Experiences While Walking inside Large, Unknown Real-World Building Environments. IEEE VR 2019


Inside Virtual Reality (VR), users are represented by avatars. When the avatars are collocated from in first-person perspective, users experience what is commonly known as embodiment. When doing so, participants have the feeling that the own body has been substituted by the self-avatar, and that the new body is the source of the sensations. Embodiment is complex as it includes not only body ownership over the avatar, but also agency, co-location, and external appearance. Despite the multiple variables that influence it, the illusion is quite robust, and it can be produced even if the self-avatar is of a different age, size, gender, or race from the participant’s own body.

Our research with avatars has tried to push forward the boundaries of avatars, how they are perceived, how users behave when interacting with avatars, the basis of self-recognition on avatars, how avatars impact our locomotion in vr, and how they change our motor actions, all from both the computer graphics and the human computer interaction sides.

This line of research on avatars is also aiming to understand further effects on psychological and neuroscience theories.

As part of our effort, we have released and contributed with two main opensource projects to the community.

Project’s page

Microsoft Research Blog

Open Source Microsoft Rocketbox library.  

Paper at Frontiers of Virtual Reality