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Microsoft’s experimental dance Cube lights up Seattle music festival

Microsoft has created a four-foot high interactive art installation for Seattle's Decibel music and arts festival.

The Microsoft Cube is essentially a projection system that uses five PCs, five projectors and four Kinect sensors to create a dance party that invites onlookers to become part of the art display.

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The installation will be visible for the duration of the festival, which runs until 28 September, located in the Seattle Centre between the Trimpin sculpture and Sky Church.

Participants are invited to stand in front of the structure and the Cube will react, tracing the movements of those around it. The Kinect sensors can register up to three people on each side, and the Cube also acts as a portal, allowing users to be connected to those on the other side.

Michael Megalli, senior director of brand strategy at Microsoft, described the Cube as residing in the "intersection of art and technology" and claimed it reflected a more creative culture at the firm.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has encouraged employees to be more experimental with their projects, taking them outside their usual remit. The Cube itself was developed over many months as various internal teams brought their own expertise and passion to the project.

The company also collaborated with WorldStage, an event technology firm, in order to finalise the structure's screens, which are made from projection material and clear acrylic.

Microsoft has yet to confirm what, if anything, the Cube will be used for in the future, but it seems that the company has plenty of ideas it is considering.

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"It could be a stage for performance, a blackboard for education, a display case for museum artefacts," explains Megalli. "It could be a communications device to bring people together in unexpected ways."

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.