In my session today at the Business Meets Research Event here in Luxembourg was Prof. Dr. Didier Stricker of DFKI in Kaiserslautern (Germany). For readers on here Prof. Dr. Stricker has been involved in the augmented reality community for some time where in addition to focusing on solving technical problems he has explored using augmented reality in real world “consumer” situations.
Following on from my recent post on augmented reality clothing, his work in the Micro-dress project should be of interest to people. One aim is to help reduce the amount of clothing returns that people make to online stores – which can apparently be as much as 70% of the garments that are sold. A system such as micro-dress should help avoid returns but also will allow people to customise their clothing online, with the details then being sent to the manufacturer. As a result the supply chain management aspects in such enterprises can also be improved.
Another of his projects which caught my attention is AR-Handbook, essentially this involves using a mobile phone to capture a task (e.g. installing ram on a computer). Editing the file and add in some augmented reality content then uploading or sharing this file with others. The system has been designed to automate as much of the process as possible, therefore making producing what could previously have been a set of manuals much easier. The result is that instead of vast bulky paper manuals people can see how to complete the task by overlaying the augmented reality view onto their own environment. This should in theory make completing certain kinds of repetitive standard tasks much easier.
Smart clothing and systems that let you try out new clothes and accessories are not that new and a quick scan online will find systems going back a number of years. However, the advent of cheap hardware such as the MS Kinect system coupled with improved knowledge of aspects such as computer vision means that augmented reality clothing is now more viable. There are many forms of “AR” clothing, take for example the first system above and the one below which lets people try accessories such as handbags. The last system I find a little more interesting, it lets you augmented your existing clothing. This in itself is not that tricky, you just need to track the clothing aspect that you want to change. However, what I find interesting is the potential of others to augment your clothes. For example, I am sure we all have some clothes our friends don’t really like. Well if it offends them that much then with Google’s new glasses why not let them change it? Now they don’t look quite so disgusted by your dress sense.
Also I often wonder how things will work out in future, for example could we just cut to the chase and buy cheap €10 t-shirts from H&M and instead let others augment us? Or alternatively H&M let us buy the cheap T-shirt then rent us our augmented clothing as and when we need it (everyone can then see your new style through AR glasses). Then each day you could have different clothes for a fraction of the cost and that harm the environment far less. Not forgetting another benefit – fewer clothing sweatshops in the far East.
The possibilities are quite amusing, other people could in theory dress us according to their preferences. Alternatively you broadcast a little signal that lets others see you as you want to be seen – of course they don’t see the cheap H&M t-shirt. Obviously there is much more to clothing that its look, take its feel and form for example. However, these aspects are also being worked on in the area of smart textiles.
One small problem though a set of clothes could last for months and the lazy among us may prefer not to wash it…
Right now we are doing quite a lot of research on in-car user interfaces, in particular how to introduce new devices or information services into the car that minimise driver distraction. The demo below from InfoVision , although a little rough claims to do just that. Basically people are given augmented reality information in response to voice commands. I have two real questions about this. The first is using voice commands while driving is probably in itself quite demanding and no doubt at times may distract the driver. The interface looks quite basic with arrows and basic written information being provided. On the face of it this looks ok, however it would be good to see some more user tests of this technology as it looks a little basic right now. One main concern I do have is whether people will actually start focusing more on reading the augmented reality information rather than watching the road. This could be especially true if the symbols become difficult to read. Also the additional information about music that is displayed may also be distracting and non-essential to the driving task. Anyway I look forward to seeing some proper usability studies of this system.
Anyway please check out the video below, it’s a little rough but illustrates a concept. There are other perhaps more advanced augmented reality driving systems around and I will post more about the others shortly. Anyway good luck to the developers as it looks promising.
For those of us who have fond memories of Pac-man from the 80s, on our Atari, Commodore or whatever you will be pleased to hear that it is also making a comeback but this time in augmented reality. Indeed AR Pac-man has been in the pipeline for a while, firstly an early incarnation from the National University of Singapore was available some years ago as part of a research project. I remember seeing it at a conference in Vienna – they set up a small sort of tent like maze and asked people to walk around it at a conference. As you can see the graphics by today’s standard seem a little basic but the idea is the same.
An intermediate step – this time not outdoors but on an augmented game board. Personally I think this looks rather interesting as it provides another way to play the game, without the need to look too silly by running through the streets. For those interested in the underlying technology it seems to be built using the Studierstube AR platform from TU Graz. This is another platform I have seen used extensively within a project I used to work on and it is certainly worth checking out.
These days of course the graphics have improved, devices have got smaller and we no longer need to wear huge visors or carry around a backpack containing a PC. A newer version below uses the Layar AR platform in what the developed claimed back in 2011 was the “first multi-player” Layar game. Rather than requiring a stylish headset and a collection of wires (which is usually enough to scare off most passers-by) you can run it on your Android or IOS device.
I haven’t had a chance to play the above game, so if anyone has please let me know how it went.
When I worked at Fraunhofer FIT a number of my colleagues were involved in the rather cool Science Centre To Go project. The idea is simple, but neat. Basically it’s to let people (in particular children) interact with mini versions of science exhibits though the use of augmented reality. One example is an aircraft wing, normally these are quite large and would not be movable let alone installable in a school. However with Science Centre to Go people can use a mini version to see the wing aerodynamics etc. Other examples include letting children gain a better understanding of the Doppler effect. Although the project is not so new now, it does show just how much fun and useful relatively basic augmented reality experiences can be.
For more information on the project please visit the website.
In what could be considered as partial revenge for the near saturation coverage that the cool Google Glasses received on the Internet, I have decided to every now and again to scan the Internet for something old or new which uses augmented reality. It could be a hack, a game or anything. It could be good, it could even be terrible.
Today’s lucky or unlucky winner (depends on if their marketing department like being on this site) is a prototype from Samsung where Augmented Reality meets TV! It’s more of a concept right now but does suggest how perhaps in future TV will move from being in one place to all around you. Indeed I once worked on a related concept, of course our project idea was much better. Well atleast we liked to think so.