Augmented reality is, at the moment, the novel concept of being able to superimpose something virtual onto your existing world. We’ve seen some neat, but ultimately useless, informational overlay applications from augmented reality, but nothing quite useful yet. Many of the alternate reality applications that you’ll find on phones today do little more than use the accelerometer/gyro/mangnometer/GPS data in your phone to adjust the informational overlay on your screen as you move and tilt. More advanced concepts use special tags to help track a particular place and then superimpose something virtual on that location.
Thanks to some incredibly smart work happening in the augmented reality field, AR is about to become a practical part of your life. You’re about to see how, using no sensors except for a camera, alternate reality will soon have the necessary performance for some actually useful (and admittedly, really cool) implementations.
Feel free to watch the entire video below, but if you’re short on time, skip right ahead to 2:53 where you’ll see the part of the demo that impresses me the most. At that point, you’ll see the computer use a camera to establish a virtual plane upon the real world in a matter of seconds, then transform that plane in real time in an entirely convincing way:
Plane detection and world tracking, when done right, is pretty damn cool, but that’s not all. How about using a camera to quickly scan the world around you, turning it into a 3D model with which you can interact? They’re working on this too, and it’s already come quite far. Again, the whole video below is interesting and I encourage you to watch it, however, the meat of the video (for me) is at 3:47 where you can see the culmination of world tracking and rapid 3D scanning. In the video, you’ll see (at the bottom right) a big ball of particles being thrown at the scene. Thanks to the rapid 3D modeling and world tracking, these particles are able to fall upon objects in the scene as though they were really there. Keep watching further and you’ll even see how you’ll be able to virtual draw and interact with the real world thanks to this impressive augmented reality work.
The abilities of these new methods and their usefulness for gaming and plenty of other uses is easy to see. Advertising, navigation, accessibility, interactive entertainment, and many other sectors will likely find use of high-performance augmented reality technology.
Thanks to Johnny Lees Procrastineering blog for pointing out these great videos.