When we say augmented reality and holograms, the first sense that comes to mind is sight; after all, augmented reality is that technology that lets us add invisible data and information superimposing them on the reality we can see. This was true until the University of Tokyo decided to change this concept: what if you could actually touch augmented reality?

It seems impossible, but it isn’t: some Japanese haptic researchers from the University of Tokyo’s Department of Complexity Science and Engineering (DCSE) are working on a project called Haptoclone that will make possible to make holograms sensitive to the touch of our hands or other objects, as if they weren’t simple images.

Practically, Haptoclone uses a method called “telehaptic“, through which the image of an object inserted in a device can be sent to another device of the same type, creating the illusion of touching the hologram you can see. The devices are two box-like contraptions, each lined with four ultrasound arrays that emit ultrasonic radiation pressure. In a box there’s a Kinect sensor to capture movement, in the other one the ultrasound arrays project the image exactly in the same position and make it haptic.

“It would be great to allow people in different locations to communicate with one another while experiencing a sense of touch.”, said Yasutoshi Makino, researcher.

For the moment, anyway, the scientists admit that the images could be just slightly perceived, but it is for a safety motivation: as Hiroyuki Shinoda, a professor at University of Tokyo, explains, “The [level] of ultrasound we’re currently using is very safe, but if it’s too strong, ultrasound can damage the insides of the human body such as the nerves and other tissues. We have to consider the limitations.”


Developers, are you curious to finally experience HoloLens live, so much that you can’t wait the official release on the market? Microsoft has an awesome surprise for you…if you can travel to New York!

In its shop in the Big Apple, in fact, it is possible to try the famous headset, taking home with you the unique experience of seeing a preview of a little piece of the future! After the tour, started in New York and then continued around 11 cities in the U.S., HoloLens finally stopped in the Big Apple and it will remain there for an unknown, surely longer than before, period. This will make possible to try the device before the launch on the market, expected for the first Q of 2016 in the developer version.

The developers who will be able to get one of the inviations and to enter the long waiting list, will have the possibility of visiting the store to watch a video about the device, but most of all to experience a live test of the headset; they will see HoloLens in action on three demo: a game one, in which you shoot hologram alien robots in front of you, one is a demonstration of the technology’s potential in presentations and sales using a luxury watch as an example, and the third one highlights HoloLens’ graphical and editing capabilities.

The idea at the back of the showroom is to help the developers starting to know better and become familiar with the headset, so when they will finally receive the version in 2016 they already had a taste of it.

Talking about the shop in New York, Alex Kipman, Microsoft spokesperson, said: “In New York, developers will get a taste of how HoloLens can enable new ways for people to communicate, create, work and play”.

Those who won’t be able to reach New York or that will not enter the test list, will have to wait few time anyway: it’s only a question of months.

Excellent period for German automotive market and its embarking in augmented reality: after Volkswagen, in fact, it’s the turn of the auto component manufacturer Bosch.

While Volkswagen few weeks ago started its experiment with smart glasses in its Wolfsburg branch (with big hopes to make them soon 100% operative), just few days ago came out the news of the acquisition of a stake in the augmented reality startup Reflekt by Bosch. Bosch itself published the news.

The world of automotive and the augmented reality one seems to go together thanks to the big advantages that this new technology can bring inside the production factories: thanks to smart headsets, the workers have the possibility to see production and assembling instructions directly in front of their eyes, remaining at the same time with hands free from devices or manuals.

Hans-Peter Meyen, Bosch spokeperson, thinks exactly this: “In the future, augmented reality applications will be used in many areas of our lives. In the industrial sector and the automotive aftermarket, AR applications will save time and reduce costs”.

The pact between Bosch and Reflekt is not completely unexpected: the two companies during last two years already experimented a winning partnership, that involved the introduction of augmented reality in the development of production, service, training and marketing applications inside Bosch’s productions; Wolfgang Stelzle, Reflekt’s CEO, says about this: “We are convinced our long-term partnership with Bosch will be strengthened by this investment. The reputation and market position of Bosch will accelerate our international expansion and product development.”

Polaroid nostalgic, this is your moment: with the expansion of mobile photography and a world every day more connected and fast, the instant print of the pictures is coming back. Actually there are some different possibilities on the market, and today we present you a particular one: its name is Prynt and it is a smartphone case with integrated micro-printer and an augmented reality feature!

The first prototype came out at the beginning of the year, collecting the interest of gadget fans; its Kickstarter campaign had incredible results: in few time it reached and passed the $50.000 goal, collecting no less than $1,5 M, becoming also the most successful French-produced Kickstarter campaign ever.

More in detail, Prynt is a case adaptable to the most famous smartphone’s models transforming them in a true Polaroid-style camera; the case makes it possible to take digital pictures and to print them straight away. The integrated micro-printer doesn’t need electricity since it uses the Zink technology (well known by the fans of instant prints), that develops the pictures on a special paper using heat.
In the past we already saw micro-printers appearing (and unluckily also fast disappearing) on the market, but Prynt seems to have that extra oomph: it is augmented reality. The pictures printed with the case, in fact, can be focused with the smartphone and a special app to see short videos appearing on them.

Prynt can be ordered on the official site and for now is compatible with iPhone 6/6S/5/5s/5C and Samsung Galaxy S4/S5, but soon it will open also to other models.


One of the most famous augmented reality headsets (even if it’s not yet sold to the public) is surely Microsoft HoloLens; here on Experenti’s blog we talked about it more than once: from the news saying it will be soon on the market to the important collaborations (we talked just few weeks ago about the last one with Volvo for its augmented showroom), to the crucial partnership with NASA for their use inside the International Space Station ISS.

Specifically, we followed the interplanetary sequence of events step after step: in June it was announced the SideKick program to launch the famous headsets to the ISS together with the supplies, and also were announced the tests held during the underwater expedition NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) to understand until what point HoloLens could be used in more complex missions, as the ones on Mars.

During last days some other HoloLens headsets reached the ISS, and astronauts Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko answered to some questions asked by the magazine Popular Science on the use of these devices in space.

Kelly declared:

“You know I actually got the opportunity to try that out before I launched, and it seems like there are certain capabilities that would be good for us onboard the space station. One would be, you know right now we look at the computer or an iPad to look at procedures. And if you could have a procedure right in your field-of-view, something that was command-able with your voice, you know where you could scroll through the different steps, that would be helpful. It also has this capability where somebody on the ground perhaps could be looking basically at what you’re looking at, and be able to write in your field of view. So let’s say we’re working on a piece of hardware, and we’re not that familiar with it, but we have an expert on the ground, you know that person could basically see what we’re seeing and make annotations, point to things, and kind of lead us through a particular activity. You know that’s one of the many capabilities of that, or similar hardware, that we’re excited about.”

You can watch the video with the complete interview here.

Continue to follow us for more stories about augmented reality 🙂

What if we say that your living room could soon become pretty different from the concept you have now, being transformed in an “augmented” room with the help of holograms and avant-garde technologies? We are not in a sci-fi book, this is reality: during last days, in fact, two Amazon’s patents related to a system that could change forever your living room habits have been discovered.

The first patent is about “object tracking” and consists of a description of how light beams can be used to project holograms inside a room, revealing at the same time the movements around them. More in depth, the patent describes: “A room equipped with computerized projection and imaging systems that enable presentation of images on various objects within the room to facilitate user interaction with the images and/or objects.”
Think about the possible application of this system: no more remotes, for example, because all the devices will be controlled with the movement of a hand.

The second Amazon’s patent is titled “Reflection-based depth mapping of a scene” and describes how the depth of one or more objects within a scene may be determined utilizing a system that includes a single light source, a reflector, a shutter mechanism, and a camera. This system is pretty innovative because it permits, on the opposite of the previous one, the use of a single source of light, cutting costs and eliminating the need to frequently re-calibrate multiple light sources.

These two patents have been created by Lab126, Amazon’s corresponding department to Google X and Microsoft Research Labs, a laboratory already famous for developing the augmented reality part of the failed Fire Phone .

Deja-vu? You have all the reasons: these two patents reminds pretty close Microsoft’s RoomAlive project (former IllumiRoom); watch the video below to know something more:


Microsoft HoloLens enters Volvo showrooms

During last times, automotive companies seems really unchained when it’s about augmented reality: during last month only, we talked about Honda’s vehicles/prototypes and Hyundai’s owner’s manual, and today we report the news of the collaboration between Volvo and Microsoft.

The two companies are working on a project that engages them both, since the objective is to insert Microsoft’s famous headset, HoloLens, inside Volvo’s showrooms.

The first demonstration with a prototype took place in Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington, where Volvo presented their new S90 mid-size luxury sedan: with the help of augmented reality the automotive company was able to show a full-size three- dimensional holograms of the car itself and cross-sections of its parts, as well as a holographic test-drive demonstration of the semi-autonomous driving system and its safety features.

To do so, Microsoft converted a large room in its headquarters into a mock Volvo showroom; inside the place, the viewers were walked around by an hologram explaining the designers’ choices, while another hologram was making possible to choose among the car features and colors. The visitors were able to choose the favorite features and to view the custom car in front of their eyes. This makes possible to see the vehicle even before it is produced.

The presentation of the product and the choice of colors are just only two little pieces of what augmented reality can do: in fact, other than being a spectacular and innovative way to show the products, it is pretty useful to point out some features that would be difficult to show either way: it is an example the automatic stopping for collision avoidance, new function of the vehicle, hard to demonstrate in a real-life test drive.

After innumerable tests, most of which between the walls of the University, finally was successfully made the first surgery with the help of augmented reality.

A group of Polish cardiac surgeons, all from the Institute of Cardiology in Warsaw, successfully used an augmented reality headset to restore the blood flow in the blocked artery of a 49yo patient. The device, an headset made from a Google Glass, displayed data about the patient in front of the doctors’ eyes, among which also the tomographic images of the arteries, that drove the operation to success.

One of the main advantages of the use of devices as Google Glass in surgery is that they leave the hands free, so the doctor can operate with more autonomy. While he does so, information and images are displayed on the side of his field of view, on the glasses’ lenses, superimposed to reality: in the Warsaw’s case in front of the surgeons’ eyes were showed the 3D reconstruction of the heart.

This kind of operation is generally pretty difficult to perform, but thanks to this device the doctors were able to find the blocked artery easily and to insert in the heart also two stents: this is the demonstration that the new technologies, augmented reality in primis, can be very useful in a delicate and important field as the medical one.

Maksymilian Opolski, author of a paper on the operation in the Journal of Cardiology, said: “This case demonstrates the novel application of wearable devices for display of data sets in the catheterisation lab that can be used for better planning and guidance of interventional procedures. It also provides proof of concept that wearable devices can improve operator comfort and procedure efficiency in interventional cardiology.”

Digital owner’s manuals are pretty common these days, but how many augmented reality ones you can list? Difficult question, isn’t it? In few time the answer will be easier to give thanks to the South Korean automotive company Hyundai, that soon will be the first releasing a tool like this.

The company’s project is to release in 2015 the app Hyundai Virtual Guide, technologic version of the classic paper owner’s manual that, through a smartphone or a tablet and augmented reality, will let the drivers learn more on features, maintenance and repairs of their vehicle.

For the creation of this app, Hyundai followed the answers that their clients gave to some surveys to determine which parts and features on a vehicle were most confusing or difficult to understand and built the app around them; inside Virtual Guide there will be also 82 how-to videos, six 3D overlay images that appear once users scan areas of their vehicle like the engine bay and more than 50 informational guides.

Among these, the app will be able to identify and provide information about the air filter, smart cruise control, Bluetooth phone pairing, warning indicators, clock, engine oil, brake fluid, fuse box and smart trunk.

“The Virtual Guide is aimed at educating our owners on how to use the functions and features of their vehicle,” said Frank Ferrara, executive vice president, customer satisfaction, Hyundai Motor America. “We modernized the idea of an owner’s manual to provide the highest-quality user experience for the growing population of tech savvy consumers.”

Hyundai Virtual Guide will be at first compatible with Hyundai Sonata 2015, recognizing more than 45 major features of this model, but it will cover other vehicles in the future.

Every fashion addicted’s dream is to try on dozens of articles without having to undress and dress again to wear them all: dresses, bags, bijoux, accessories…imagine you can see them on you simply choosing the ones you like from a catalogue.

This kind of solutions, thanks to augmented reality, is starting to be used more often by retail companies all around the world; today we go to India to talk about the new project by Shoppers Stop, retail company counting 74 stores in different cities all around the country and featuring also a big online presence. It’s probably thanks to its love for the web and the virtual world, that the company thought it was a good idea to make easier for clients to choose products trying them on virtually thanks to augmented reality.

The system is easy: you enter a dressing room in which there’s an augmented reality mirror, called “Magic Mirror“; through the mirror you can choose among 1500 products sold by the company and in the time of a second you can see them directly on you. You can also mix and match the products, wearing more than one at time.

For now there’s only one Magic Mirror inside a shopping mall in Mumbai, but the enthusiasm that clients showed for this device makes everyone think that soon it will be pretty common; Aanchal Kumar, a client of the mall, said about it: “Shoppers Stop’s Magic Mirror is a really fun and fascinating concept. I’ve virtually tried on about 25 dresses in a matter of seconds and without needing to use a trial room at all. How cool is that?”

If you are curious of trying augmented reality in a shopping situation, you don’t have to travel to Mumbai: you can do it right now with Experenti’s free app (Android, iOS) and our kit; one of our example tags is set inside a clothes shop and you will meet a nice virtual assistant.