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Ramblings About Augmented Reality

August 20, 2011

As you all know, one of my main passions is decoding images into 3D environments.  I love researching machine vision and augmented reality.  Just check out how cool this stuff is.  In this next video, a guy creates a laser gun and points it at objects in his room.  Using AR, he creates this virtual HUD display, like he’s in some sort of giant mech-robot.  His program then uses visual information to measure the distance to the object he’s pointing at.  At the end of this little demo, a message appears above the robot’s head, it fires a laser blast at him, and he dodges it just in time.

In time I think everyone’s iPhones, mp3 players, and such will become far more powerful, allowing them to integrate with eye-glasses which support AR. This will let people watch movies, surf the web, and play interactive video games. Imagine if you controlled your desktop using devices like these used in this next video. Imagine spinning your windows around using your hands, bringing them closer or farther away from you.  Even more sophisticated, you could transform an entire room into a virtual experience, leaving windows in different areas of your room, picking them up, moving them, and so forth.  If you worked at it, I think you could use devices like the ones in this next video to revolutionize the desktop PC experience.  Using a mouse is a bit dated, I think.  AR technology allows much cooler alternatives.

Take LCD monitor displays.  They’re cool and all, but we won’t need them for much longer.  The problem with today’s handheld devices are their small displays.  Using AR glasses, you could have a much better experience.  You could watch movies on a virtual huge high-def screen, simulated by your glasses. The same applies to desktop PCs.  Why spend a fortune on a huge monitor when you could use AR glasses which project your desktop, movies, etc, onto a virtual canvas, placed anywhere you like within your room.  When you put on your glasses, it would appear.  It could be far more interactive, larger, and more vivid.

I thought of my parents in their living room.  My mom and dad both have their own TVs, stacked on top of one another.  They sit in recliners by one another and both watch different programs.  Each of them have headphones.  Imagine using AR instead!  They could transform that entire living room space into a huge TV/computer screen and both watch their own programs without interfering with one another.  They could each have multiple TV screens, surfing multiple channels.  Integrate that with your computer, or handheld device, and you have something pretty awesome there!  My mom wouldn’t have to suffer from headaches any longer.  She likes to sit in her recliner, but she finds laptops awkward on her lap, and when she has to look at a distant LCD monitor, it strains her eyes.  This would be a perfect solution for her.

I’m slightly envious of the students and professors from Queens University who made this next video. I was hoping to earn enough one day to build this exact setup. They’ve constructed a robot which flys around a pool table, capable of playing pool, but also able to show you what would happen were you to hit the ball in any particular way. They use augmented reality and physics.  You move your pool stick over the table, aim it at the cue-ball at a certain angle, move the stick back and forth, and so on, and while you do so, the computer shows you what would happen with lines and simulations.  This technology would help you master your billiards skills. Before too long, I’m sure there will be an iPhone AR app which will integrate with special glass which will be capable of doing this.  Put on those glasses and own your friends at billiards.  Master crazy trick shots and perform wonders!  Maybe I should write it?  I wonder if I’d make any money? It’d take me a little while to write it — maybe six months to a year or so.  I don’t know how to build the glasses though.  But I could write the app without any problems.  I think future iPhones would be powerful enough to handle the simulations and AR, but I’m not sure about current models.  I’d have to see.

I always wanted a robot like this because I could practice some difficult shot, and when I screwed it up, have the robot set the balls back up in their proper place.  Robots of the future will pamper us so much.  We’ll become so lazy!

Thinking of which, I may run this idea by some of the physics professors at Missouri S&T, and see if they know anyone who could build the glasses and would be interested.  Our university has a lot of contacts.  Maybe someone would be interested?  Who knows.  AR glasses would be huge.  I just need a tiny camera which can take in data, and also a way to project the images onto the lenses.  It has to be a really high-def awesome camera or people won’t want to look out of the glasses, and the images must be clear or the AR objects we project into the virtual space will jerk and move about.  The glasses need to be light and stylish, with many varieties, since people will be wearing them all the time.

I’d like to build this entertainment/computer desktop experience within AR.  Using OpenCV object recognition, I could make it respond to hands, so you could interact with the AR objects, such as resizing your screens, interacting with your computer, and so forth. I’m fired up!  I’ll write the code, somebody build those glasses!  Contact me!  jason (at) jasonsummers.org.

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