Augmented reality

Augmented reality is a technological direction I am very excited about, and one that I think can have an enormous impact on everyday life.

Kotaku posted a link  to this French video (which, sadly, requires RealPlayer) showing CG objects interacting with real objects in real-time. The interactions are both visual (CG objects are occluded by real objects) and physical (CG objects are pushed away by real objects – though obviously not the other way around).

There’s similarly exciting research going on here in Vienna: check out The Invisible Train, a multi-user augmented reality application for handheld devices – if I’m not mistaken, Palm or PocketPC PDAs. There are some demo videos as well.

(I’ve also seen a video of a system that puts CG glasses on a real face in real-time, but I can’t find it right now.)

Just think of all the information in the physical world that is easier to convey with practical AR. Certainly everything having to do with navigation and pathfinding. Printed maps become obsolete. Navigation systems become so much more elegant (try driving across the Karlsplatz here in Vienna, or any other complicated intersection, using a typical car navigation system, and you’ll see what I mean). AR is a great way of ‘explaining’ in-game interfaces – better than HUDs (I still regret that Deus Ex never used that). I consider it very likely that real life AR interfaces will be inspired by game interfaces.

And of course there is the potential for a next-gen EyeToy. I wonder what Richard Marks is working on now?…

Update: OK, this is what Richard Marks has been working on. Cool stuff!

Comments 7

  1. Damion Schubert wrote:

    Talking about this stuff without even a passing link to the supercool stuff that Mine Control is doing is almost criminal. Their work is in merging shadows with computer imagery, and is amazing to witness live in action. http://www.mine-control.com/

    Posted 06 Feb 2005 at 11:10
  2. chrisf wrote:

    http://www.gris.informatik.tu-darmstadt.de/~nbraun/index_official.html

    this guy has done some cool stuff with AR in a tourist attraction in Heidelberg, incorporating some interesting interactive story technology.

    Posted 07 Feb 2005 at 1:24
  3. Noah Falstein wrote:

    The Invisible Train people were showing it off at Imagina (sorry not to have you there this year, Jurie!) and it was kind of neat but underwhelming. I remember seeing the first Interactive Videodisc game back in around 1982 and having a similar feeling – kind of cool, definitely crude, and probably the harbinger of an interesting future. But as with other VR displays in my experience there was a very perceptible lag if you moved the viewing device (standard PDAs with cameras, which was cool) and the application was less than exciting. If they’d had a mockup of a city block with little menus and reviews appearing when you looked at restaurants, bus schedules when you saw a bus stop (or a bus!) etc. I think it would have been more inspiring than trying to keep two trains from crashing. I don’t know if I’ve properly conveyed my mix of excitement and disappointment here, but it was definitely an ambiguous experience.

    Posted 09 Feb 2005 at 5:29
  4. Jurie Horneman wrote:

    Hmm… good points. It should only be a matter of time for the latency problems to be solved, I don’t think it’s as inherently tricky as VR. (But then, I just woke up and have no practical experience with either.)

    I definitely agree your example would have been more impressive. The two PDAs could show different data filters, even data from different providers. And if they’d used a foldable map of Vienna, some fake buildings and some juicy data (something like a9’s new Yellow Pages!), they could probably waltz (ah ah) into the offices of any mobile operator here and walk out with a big contract.

    Posted 09 Feb 2005 at 8:12
  5. Aubrey wrote:

    There’s going to be *some* lag for a while, unfortunately. As hardware increases to tackle the strain of existing methods, you just know that we’ll strain to saturate the CPU with undeniably more advanced and useful image processing approaches.

    I was involved briefly with a UCL AR project. The key-phrase I took with me was “shared hallucination” – the idea that you could walk around a city space, and see this extra layer of reality on top of things which others would also be able to see, and interact with. Apart from linking values to control objects (moving around a Mars Bar to extend the length of a CG building, for example) that was the most interesting concept to me.

    Posted 09 Feb 2005 at 10:46
  6. markus wrote:

    for everybody also refusing to install anything from Real ever again there’s Real Alternative: http://www.free-codecs.com/download/Real_Alternative.htm

    Posted 13 Feb 2005 at 19:48
  7. Democracy in Action wrote:

    Hi I am a free Iraqi who votes. We took a vote and you need to post more frequently. This is our decision to you.

    Posted 13 Feb 2005 at 21:31