If we say augmented reality, the first things that comes to our minds are holograms and images superimposed to reality: we are talking about virtual factors going to add information (to augment, indeed) to what we see. From now on, however, we will have to keep in mind that augmented reality can have also a physical consistency: we have to thank the project BitDrones, created by a group of researchers of Queen’s University’s Human Media Lab, for giving us a new way of conceiving this tech field.
BitDrones is a system composed by little and light-weight flying nano-drones coming in different kinds and functionalities: there are PixelDrones, with a little led screen to display information; ShapeDrones, augmented with a light-weight mesh and a 3D printed geometric frame, that serve as building blocks for 3D models; and DisplayDrones, with a touch screen interface. All three kind of drones, as well as the user’s hand motion and touch, are individually tracked and positioned in real time via motion capture technology. This is how interaction is made possible and the bricks can be manipulated in space to create complex 3D models.
Dr. Vertegaal, director of Human Media Lab, said: “We call this a Real Reality interface rather than a Virtual Reality interface. This is what distinguishes it from technologies such as Microsoft HoloLens and the Oculus Rift: you can actually touch these pixels, and see them without a headset.”
For now the BitDrones system, at the moment at its first version, supports about a dozen of drones with big sizes (from 2.5” to 5”), but the development team is working on a new version capable to manage thousands of smaller size drones (half inch) allowing users to render more seamless, high resolution programmable matter.
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Passionate about Art and Augmented Reality? At Palazzo Magnani in Reggio Emilia, Italy, there will be the exhibition you are waiting for: “Piero della Francesca – Il disegno tra arte e scienza” (The drawing between art and science) is held from March 14 until June 14.
This isn’t only an exhibition showing the amazing works of Piero della Francesca and the other protagonists of the theory and practice of perspective drawing and architecture of Italian 15th and 16th centuries, but also an occasion to enjoy the Italian Renaissance Art through multimedia installations and Augmented Reality apps.
About a hundred works will be displayed, accompanying the visitor along a path that follows the various chapters of “De Prospectiva Pingendi” (On perspective in painting), one of the most important testimonies of the work made on perspective by Piero della Francesca, so that walking from a room to another will be a bit like leafing through the treaty’s pages. The drawings of the treaty are transformed into 3D models and the famous “Ideal City” of Urbino, one of the masterpieces of Renaissance perspective, will be explained through Augmented Reality.
If you want to see an example of the use of Augmented Reality in art, just download Experenti’s app (free for Android and IOS) and use it on the “Museum” tab of our Press Kit: after seeing our WOW experience you will not want to miss the exhibition!
Some days ago a new augmented reality headset was added to the famous trio Google Glass, Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR: Microsoft, during its worldwide streaming event “Windows 10: Next Chapter”, presented various projects that will be developed in next months. Among the others (not less than Windows 10 and the new Microsoft’s browser) there’s a particular one which is very interesting to us: we are talking about the suite of augmented reality software called Windows Holographic and the related augmented reality headset, named HoloLens.
The Redmond company didn’t use the words “augmented reality” but “holograms”, still we know what that means: this will probably be the yet-missing mainstream AR set. In fact, at the moment Google Glass has just few AR apps, while Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR are more centered on virtual reality. HoloLens seems to be finally a true AR headset, which puts in communication our daily world with the virtual world.
As Microsoft’s Alex Kipman said: “Until now, we’ve immersed ourselves in the world of technology, but what if we could take technology and immerse it in our world?”
Kipman didn’t describe in depth HoloLons technology, but hinted that they are more sophisticated than the other headsets around: e.g. they create the illusion of depth showing to each eye a different plain image. There’s more: first, it seems it will not use markers as e.g. QR codes; second: the headset itself is very close to a pair of normal glasses, so definitely wearable and light (and why not? – even classy).
During the presentation event, Microsoft’s executives Joe Belfiore, Terry Myerson and Alex Kipman showed some examples of everyday use for HoloLens: how to adjust a broken pipe, make a Skype call directly on a wall and also how to build Minecraft buildings anywhere we want. There was also a demo on how to sculpt 3D printable models. These uses open this technology to almost every kind of people, making HoloLens, as we said before, the first mainstream AR headset; we are sure that this new product, with the related software, will be a success.
But this powerful techonology, of course, can be used even on higher levels: in fact, last but not least, Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA is working with Microsoft to see if they can use holograms in scientific research.
It’s not strange, in these times, to read on the web users saying that sci-fi is here. Yes, and it seems it just started.
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