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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Reality intrudes into gaming
Microsoft researcher
Researchers were fitted with omni-directional cameras
Microsoft has come up with a new take on the often fantastical virtual world gamers are used to playing in.

Using a technique developed at Microsoft's UK research lab in Cambridge, gamers could soon play action games in the more familiar surroundings of their own house or garden.

Researchers have rigged up an omni-directional camera which captures images at a 360 degree angle.

The pictures can then be transferred to a computer to allow people to take a virtual tour through the environment captured.

Picture perfect

The person controls the viewpoint and location using a standard game controller and the tour feels very much like a computer game.

The team are also working on ways of making the editing of digital images more sophisticated and simpler for people.

Repairing old photos, removing objects from pictures and even transferring a beautiful sunset from one landscape to another can be done at the touch of a button thanks to image editing techniques developed at the lab.

A technique called PatchWorks allows people to remove objects that have been loosely selected using a drawing tool.

The computer can make a guess at how to fill in the background based on what is already there, saving the user time and trouble.

The Blender tool allows users to change the content of a picture by inserting a new object or changing the colour or background of the original photo.

Even transparent objects such as rainbows and clouds can be easily moved from one picture to another using the technique.

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