Recently, Microsoft demonstrated a technology halfway between goggle-based VR and the Star Trek holodeck. It's called Behind the Screen Overlay technology, and the company presented it at Microsoft TechForum 2012.
Microsoft's VR works via a see-through screen that also projects 3D data -- two images each project to one of the user's eyes. Cameras keep track of the position of the eyes, so the image onscreen can change as the user's head moves to create the illusion of virtual reality.
Cameras in the back of the screen keep track of your hands, similar to the way Kinect for Xbox 360 does.
The overall result is that you see 3D objects as if they're floating in space on the other side of the screen. And your hands can manipulate those virtual objects.
Sounds great, right? But there's no way you'll be using this with Windows 9.
Yes, there could be applications for this kind of technology in specialized research fields. But the evolution of consumer user interfaces is headed in the opposite direction. Displays of the future will be based on touch inputs and they will give haptic feedback.
Everyday users would be irritated by touching nothing and not having any kind of physical sensation feedback.
All of these futuristic technologies -- flying cars, augmented reality glasses and virtual reality desktop displays -- are worthy projects built on awesome technologies.
But don't believe the hype about everybody using this stuff anytime soon. The fantasy is great. But the reality is this: You don't really want it.
Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.
Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.