Sunday, December 14, 2008

Augmented Reality

I thought I?d do a post about the technology of Augmented Reality.

Most people have never heard of it. Its actually pretty simple conceptually.

So we know about blue-screens and green screens and how they are used to switch out backgrounds in movies, right? Well Augmented Reality is similar in that its somehow modified by a computer, but rather than a green screen or blue screen being modified it is a pattern, usually of high contrast black and white. The pattern is unique and used to identify a particular object. Anyway what happens is that the computer (kinda) switches out the foreground object, basically covering an area marked by a pattern.

The computer reads a video camera hooked up to it and knowing all (or most) patterns are square attempts to figure out the rotation of the pattern in 3d space based on what it can recognize of its four points. In the computer the object is replaced by a 3d model. The final result is processed and sent to the screen or another visual device such as a tv.

So the result of the block of wood with a pattern you are shaking around looks like a piece of wood to you but look up at computer monitor and you are actually shaking a small village while the residents try their best to hold on.

Maybe this?d best describe it:

Theres a second thing thats being done with augmented reality. In that a 3d model is built that is exactly the same dimensions as a real object. When the pattern is referenced the 3d model can be used for collision detection so the virtual cartoon character can bump against the real physical object.

This is being used all over the place. Its being used as a reference and to train airplane mechanics. By wearing visual monitor glasses by looking at a pattern on an aircraft they can get an overview of the schematics for that section of the aircraft.

There are all sorts of educational applications this could be used for, just think of some, you can probably create a create a greate experience using augmented reality as a tool. Its a great tool to add excitement and motivation to any group of people using it.


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