augmented reality

Augmented reality game makes a haunted house of any home

The scariest films often stay with us long after we’ve left the movie theater and gone home. For those who don’t find films quite scary enough, though, there is a new horror game app — called Night Terrors — which promises to transform any house into a petrifying hellscape. The app uses environment mapping, gyroscope sensors and the player’s own smartphone camera and flashlight to create an immersive augmented reality, complete with ghosts and psychopaths. READ MORE…

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Brand Killer

Student project by Reed Rosenbluth, Jonathan Dubin, Tom Catullo, and Alex Crits-Christoph is a proof-of-concept Augmented Reality version of Ad-Block, censoring brand logos that appear in the real world - video embedded below:

Corporate branding and advertisements are ubiquitous in society today and impossible to avoid. What if we lived in a world where consumers were blind to the excesses of corporte branding? Brand Killer is a technology demonstration of a future world in which consumers can empower themselves using augmented reality to literally ignore corporate influence. We built head mounted display which uses openCV image processing to recognize and block brands and logos from the user’s point of view in real time. It’s AdBlock for Real Life.

More Here

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Norris joins me virtually, appearing as a three-dimensional human-shaped golden orb in the Mars-scape. (In reality, he’s in the room next door.) A dotted line extends from his eyes toward what he is looking at. “Check that out,” he says, and I squat down to see a rock shard up close. With an upward right-hand gesture, I bring up a series of controls. I choose the middle of three options, which drops a flag there, theoretically a signal to the rover to collect sediment.

After exploring Mars, I don’t want to remove the headset, which has provided a glimpse of a combination of computing tools that make the unimaginable feel real. NASA felt the same way. 

MORE: Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Unbelievable New Holographic Goggles

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Dense Planar SLAM

Experimental AR computer vision project by Renato Salas-Moreno utilizes an RGB-D sensor and Oculus Rift to detect flat areas within a space to add digital content … such as placing a Facebook wall onto your living room wall - video embedded below:

We present an efficient new real-time approach which densely maps an environment using bounded planes and surfels extracted from depth images (like those produced by RGB-D sensors or dense multi-view stereo reconstruction). Our method offers the every-pixel descriptive power of the latest dense SLAM approaches, but takes advantage directly of the planarity of many parts of real-world scenes via a data-driven process to directly regularize planar regions and represent their accurate extent efficiently using an occupancy approach with on-line compression. Large areas can be mapped efficiently and with useful semantic planar structure which enables intuitive and useful AR applications such as using any wall or other planar surface in a scene to display a user’s content.

More Here

Neal Stephenson has joined Magic Leap, the mysterious and well-funded augmented/virtual reality startup.

From his blog post: 

If you’re one of the seven billion people who haven’t read Snow Crash, I’ll explain that it has a lot to do with both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). When I wrote it, it seemed as though those technologies were just around the corner. Accordingly, Snow Crash is set in a near-future world.

In practice, it has taken longer than just about anyone expected to get that kind of tech consumer-ready. The devil has turned out to be in the details of satisfying the amazingly finicky human visual system.

The retina lies outside of what we normally think of as the brain, but it performs brain-like processing operations on the light that strikes it. What it feeds down the optic nerve to the brain proper isn’t so much an image as it is the beginnings of an idea–something that has already been thought about by that chunk of peripheral brain in the back of the eyeball. Banging photons off of this thing in an effort to fool it turns out to be hard. For hundreds of millions of years of animal and human evolution, seeing stuff that’s actually there = not dying = getting to have children.

So it was in an appropriately skeptical frame of mind that, a few weeks later, I traveled to what for me is the opposite corner of the United States. In a teeming, overcrowded hardware lab in a South Florida strip mall, I got the demo from Rony, the founder and CEO. Shortly thereafter, I agreed to become Magic Leap’s Chief Futurist.

More from io9.

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Augmented Reality Royal Occasion

Part of the celebration of Kings Day in the Netherlands featured a boat passing a big AR marker:

On the Dutch national holiday called King’s Day, a celebration of the birthday of their King, Willem Alexander, the King and Queen were surprised by a gigantic virtual Lion. The annual parade of boats had a hidden layer of reality. One of the boats, was an augmented reality ‘marker’ which revealed an 3D animation of their national symbol, the lion of orange. 

The project developed by Wijdoendingen has an app which you can try out yourself here

'Seeing' through Virtual Touch Is Believing

A University of Cincinnati experiment aimed at this diverse and growing population could spark development of advanced tools to help all the aging baby boomers, injured veterans, diabetics and white-cane-wielding pedestrians navigate the blurred edges of everyday life.

These tools could be based on a device called the Enactive Torch, which looks like a combination between a TV remote and Captain Kirk’s weapon of choice. But it can do much greater things than change channels or stun aliens.

Luis Favela, a graduate student in philosophy and psychology, has found the torch enables the visually impaired to judge their ability to comfortably pass through narrow passages, like an open door or busy sidewalk, as good as if they were actually seeing such pathways themselves.

The handheld torch uses infra-red sensors to “see” objects in front of it. When the torch detects an object, it emits a vibration – similar to a cellphone alert – through an attached wristband. The gentle buzz increases in intensity as the torch nears the object, letting the user make judgments about where to move based on a virtual touch.

“Results of this experiment point in the direction of different kinds of tools or sensory augmentation devices that could help people who have visual impairment or other sorts of perceptual deficiencies. This could start a research program that could help people like that,” Favela says.

Favela presented his research “Augmenting the Sensory Judgment Abilities of the Visually Impaired” at the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual convention, held Aug. 7-10 in Washington, D.C. More than 11,000 psychology professionals, scholars and students from around the world annually attend APA’s convention.

A Growing Population in Need

Favela studies how people perceive their environment and how those perceptions inform their judgments. For this experiment, he was inspired by what he knew about the surging population of visually impaired Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that more than 6 million Americans age 40 and older will be affected by blindness or low vision by 2030 – double the number from 2004 – due to diabetes or other chronic diseases and the rapidly aging population. The CDC also notes that vision loss is among the top 10 causes of disability in the U.S., and vision impairment is one of the most prevalent disabilities in children.

“In my research I’ve found that there’s an emotional stigma that people who are visually impaired experience, particularly children,” Favela says. “When you’re a kid in elementary school, you want to blend in and be part of the group. It’s hard to do that when you’re carrying this big, white cane.”

Substituting Sight with Touch

In Favela’s experiment, 27 undergraduate students with normal or corrected-to-normal vision and no prior experience with mobility assistance devices were asked to make perceptual judgments about their ability to pass through an opening a few feet in front of them without needing to shift their normal posture. Favela tested participants’ judgments in three ways: using only their vision, using a cane while blindfolded and using the Enactive Torch while blindfolded. The idea was to compare judgments made with vision against those made by touch.

The results of the experiment were surprising. Favela figured vision-based judgments would be the most accurate because vision tends to be most people’s dominant perceptual modality. However, he found the three types of judgments were equally accurate.

“When you compare the participants’ judgments with vision, cane and Enactive Torch, there was not a significant difference, meaning that they made the same judgments,” Favela says. “The three modalities are functionally equivalent. People can carry out actions just about to the same degree whether they’re using their vision or their sense of touch. I was really surprised.”

Favela plans additional experiments requiring more complicated judgments, such as the ability to step over an obstacle or to climb stairs. With further study and improvements to the Enactive Torch, Favela says similar tools that augment touch-based perception could have a significant impact on the lives of the visually impaired.

“If the future version of the Enactive Torch is smaller and more compact, kids who use it wouldn’t stand out from the crowd, they might feel like they blend in more,” he says, noting people can quickly adapt to using the torch. “That bodes well, say, for someone in the Marines who was injured by a roadside bomb. They could be devastated. But hope’s not lost. They will learn how to navigate the world pretty quickly.”

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THE FUTURE IS HERE HOLY SHIT

U CAN (soon??) TURN UR WHOLE ROOM INTO MINECRAFT OR EXPLORE MARS WITH THE HOLOLENS OMFG

So let me tell you about this beautiful, open world app staring you, and my first experience with it.

So after seeing this app about 2 hours ago (at time of writing) I saw it was free and decided “Ehh, why not, I’ve got nothing better to do today.” So I downloaded this app, put it on my phone, signed in with my sexy google account, and started.

First off this app does a good job of making me feel like I’m walking around hacking and boy I wish I could say that without making me sound like I do nothing but sit on my ass and eat cheetos all day, but I digress. The goal is you’re supposed to walk around your neighborhood, find portals, and hack them, rinse repeat. It did a good job of getting me off of my ass and walking around my neighborhood.

So I get up and decide I’ll go for a walk in my Matte Black Metallica T-Shirt in 400 billion degree weather. Now, the app says portals are usually found at famous landmarks and things. Being where I live, there aren’t too many landmarks, but it was enough I had three portals within 1km of me. So I let the app do its thing and it scanned the area to tell me where they were, and I noticed the first was 200m away from me, so I walked over there and I immediately recognized it as my local church. The portal itself was located smack-dab in the middle of the actual building, meaning I had to walk inside the church, press hack, wait around a bit, then walk out. But the thin is the church was crowded with people, and my predominately atheist self wearing my Metallica shirt with skulls and other stuff that probably wouldn’t fly in a church, I decided I’d skip this one and take a walk to the next one which was about 850m away. It was at this point, walking away from the church that I thought: “This feels like a sandbox game, like watchdogs or something, but instead of some unfeeling protagonist who steals cars and drives over old ladies, I’m myself, with self-consciousness issues.”.

So anyway I walked to the next portal and this one, get this, was also another church, though this church had a huge outdoor section, and had few people there so I managed to sneak by and wait in the outdoor area for a bit so my hack could be completed. This’ll sound weird, but I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had just stealthed my way through a bunch of guards to complete some important hack, and then snuck back out and no one was the wiser. Now that I remember it though, there was one guy who might have noticed but he was re-painting the sign and I don’t think he gave a shit. 

I then started making my way to the third one which was quite a far ways out, but then I got to open road and I’d rather not risk getting run over just to have another hack.

If you ever wanted to feel like you were on some secret mission or something, hacking for the greater good (or evil if that’s your thing), then this is definitely worth the download.

tl;dr: Download this motherfucker.

Lowe’s creates holodeck-like room for customers to try out renovations

It is essentially a 3D augmented reality area, where customers use a specially designed tablet to first recreate the room in their home they want to renovate.

The Holoroom, created by tech consultancy SciFutures and Lowe’s Innovation Labs, is being tested in stores, and is expected to soon become an app for home use.