For the past six months or so, AR(Augmented Reality) has been the biggest buzz word in the flash community. Designers and developers alike, have been sweating for months, over creative ways to use this incredibly cool technology.
What is AR?
Augmented reality is basicly an interactive application, that tracks a 2D marker you physically hold up in front of your webcam, and the application then maps something else onto that marker and displays it live on your monitor. Whatever the application maps onto your marker, reacts to how far away or close to the camera you hold the marker and to what degree you tilt and rotate it.
Augmented Reality for non-nerds
The Webcam Social Shopper, As Zugara named their newest creation, seems to finally have connected this technology, in a useful way, with the average user. Coupling the functionality of both Augmented Reality and Motion Capture, this application will allow anyone with a webcam to use nothing but their hands to shop around on the website and see how different products would fit them in reality.
As friends recommendations influence a consumer’s purchase decision and beat any other “consumer touchpoint”, The Webcam Social Shopper naturally lets you take a snap shot of yourself wearing the clothes you consider buying, and let your friends give you immediate feedback on Facebook.
Watch the presentation in the youtube video below for more info.
This is definitely a preview of the quality of interactive experiences we’ll soon get to see all around us. Just think of the fantastic possiblities technology like this brings. A couple of examples could be:
- Picking up your new hair style before visiting the hair dresser and actually know what you’d look like, before not after she pulls out the scissors.
- Try out new furniture, art, wallpaper etc. for your appartment without having to buy anything.
- Fully controller-free applications and games(there has been a couple of exaples of this already – And of course there’s Project Natal)
- Pseudo holographic virtual screens like the Minority Report DVD Menu.
- Advanced navigation software that maps directions and guidelines directly onto the environment(Eg. car navigation mapping your route onto the road in front of you)
- Virtual interactive posters to replace those existing today.
Some other noticeable uses of AR and Motion capture:
- GE Plug Into the Smart Grid – Simple and beatiful AR Example. Take a firm grip on environmentally conscious energy sources, and you know … Shake them a bit!
- David Lindsey Wade portfolio – Navigate this amazing photographer portfolio by simple hand gestures. A truly creative UI by danish interactive agency, Hello Monday.
- AR and video – While most AR focuses on the 3D side of things, this demo features 2D video with an alpha channel. Hello holograms!
- AR on the iPhone – One of the most amazing things with AR is the low hardware requirements. This means AR is even available to handheld devices.
AR Resources and tutorials:
- The FLARToolkit – The FLARToolkit detects 2D markers in 3D space.
- Papervision3D – A 3D Engine for flash. You’ll find lots of examples on their blog.
- A video tutorial on basic AR – By Lee Brimelow of goToAndLearn().com.
- Another tutorial on the FLARToolkit – By Mikko Haapoja.