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Augmented reality

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Original author: 
Sean Hollister

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Three months ago, celebrated video game publisher Valve did something completely out of character: it fired up to 25 workers, in what one employee dubbed the "great cleansing." At the time, co-founder Gabe Newell quickly reassured gamers that the company wouldn't be canceling any projects, but it just so happens that one project managed to get away.

Valve was secretly working on a pair of augmented reality glasses... and those glasses are still being built by two Valve employees who lost their jobs that day.

"This is what I'm going to build come hell or high water."

Former Valve hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth and programmer Rick Johnson spent over a year working on the project at Valve, and have been putting in six days a week, 16+...

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Augmented reality for mobile devices has grown in popularity in recent years partly because of the proliferation of smart phones and tablet computers equipped with exceptional cameras and partly because of developments in computer vision algorithms that make implementing such technologies on embedded systems possible.

Said augmented reality applications have always been limited to a single user receiving additional information about a physical entity or interacting with a virtual agent. Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have taken augmented reality to the next level by developing a multi-user collaboration tool that allows users to augment reality and share that we other users essentially turning the real world into a digital canvas for all to share.

The Second Surface project as it is known is described as,

…a novel multi-user Augmented reality system that fosters a real-time interaction for user-generated contents on top of the physical environment. This interaction takes place in the physical surroundings of everyday objects such as trees or houses. The system allows users to place three dimensional drawings, texts, and photos relative to such objects and share this expression with any other person who uses the same software at the same spot.

If you still have difficulty understanding how this works and why I believe when made available to the general masses it will be a game changing technology for augmented reality and mobile devices, check out the following explanatory video.

Now, imagine combining this technology with Google Glass and free-form gesture recognition. How awesome would that be?

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Google Glass Sergey Brin

Google's Project Glass promises us a new kind of ubiquitous computing with a wearable heads-up display, but the actual glasses will be a long time coming. To test the concept for himself, AI researcher Rod Furlan pieced together existing parts from manufacturers (some of whom are now out of business) into a facsimile of Project Glass, then connected it to a repurposed iPod touch as an on-board computer. Furlan's is hardly the first wearable display or hobbyist headset, but his experience wearing even his rudimentary design, as well as the "feeling of loss" he felt upon taking it off, is fascinating.

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Hatsune Miku AR in park

The proliferation of relatively cheap motion sensors in recent years, combined with development tools such as Microsoft's Kinect SDK, means that augmented reality (AR) hacks are really starting to take off. As if to showcase just what's possible with current consumer AR tech, a Japanese YouTube user has produced a video of a virtual date with computerized J-pop star Hatsune Miku.

Using Asus's Xtion Pro sensor, "alsionesvx" takes Miku to a park, demonstrating her position in the real world by having her stand behind a tree. He even interacts with her, moving her tie and hitting her on the top of the head, with pre-programmed results. It's only towards the end of the video that the less wholesome potential of this technology comes into...

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ioptik

The Pentagon has placed an order for a prototype augmented reality display system that is based on dual focus contact lenses with an expanded field of vision. The system, called iOptik and developed by Innovega, allows the wearer to focus on a HUD at the same time as the surrounding environment by projecting an image onto different sections of the lens. HUD information goes through to the center of the pupil, and light from the wearer's peripheral vision is filtered out to avoid interference. The US military already uses HUDs on the battlefield, but they require bulky equipment and the wearer must actively focus on the information displayed. However, iOptik uses a lightweight eyewear system that doesn't look entirely dissimilar to what G...

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Located on a rather nondescript industrial estate in a suburb of Leicester you'll find an equally nondescript warehouse unit. Nestled amongst the usual glut of logistics companies and scrap metal merchants, the building in question once housed a firm that was poised to dramatically alter the world of interactive entertainment as we know it, and worked with such illustrious partners as Sega, Atari, Ford and IBM.

That company was Virtuality. Founded by a dashing and charismatic Phd graduate by the name of Jonathan D. Waldern, it placed the UK at the vanguard of a Virtual Reality revolution that captured the imagination of millions before collapsing spectacularly amid unfulfilled promises and public apathy.

The genesis of VR begins a few years prior to Virtuality's birth in its grey and uninspiring industrial surroundings. The technology was born outside of the entertainment industry, with NASA and the US Air Force cooking up what would prove to be the first VR systems, intended primarily for training and research. The late '80s and very early '90s saw much academic interest in the potential of VR, but typically, it took a slice of Hollywood hokum to really jettison the concept into the global consciousness and create a new buzzword for the masses.

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Beyond Princess Leia in a Beam of Light: A Glimpse into the Future of Augmented Reality

Google Tech Talk March 12, 2012 Presented by Prof. Ken Perlin, NYU. ABSTRACT There is something incredibly right about the vision George Lucas showed us back in 1977. Displays that hover in the air between us promise a world that privileges face to face communication -- a far more human-centric vision than our current reality, in which we spend our days staring into computer screens. Such holographic displays are not yet practical, but one day they will be. Meanwhile, through real-time video chat enhanced by capture of gestures and head positions via depth cameras, we can start to experience -- and design for -- that future. We will describe and demo our system, ARCADE, that creates the appearance of a holographic projection floating between people in a live video chat, and allows those people to enhance their communication by interacting with objects in this virtual projection. There are immediate applications in educational settings and for increasing the power of live multi-way video communication. More info about Ken Perlin: cs.nyu.edu
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