Map/Territory: Augmented Reality Without the Phone

Map/Territory from timo on Vimeo.

The world will become our display. As a stopgap we are busily turning our phones into the lens through which we view floating tweets and wikipedia entries. However designers like Timo Arnall are starting to explore how we will interact with an augmented world when we are able to move past the iPhone crutch.

The 30-second video above shows a woman interacting with a map on the ground. She navigates and zooms the plaza-sized subway map with simple hand gestures. Like all good concept pieces it leaves the “how” for a developer to be inspired by and leaves the “what” for us to marvel at. I asked Timo to tell me about Map/Territory and he sent me:

speed

In our research at AHO we recognised a while ago that AR was becoming cheap and implementable enough to make it interesting on a wide scale; seeing the first Android phone late last year with a GPS and compass and Google Street View was a real eye opener, a little window on an alternate representation of the world.

But we don’t yet know enough about the experience of AR to make decisions about how this technology should work in practice. So Map/Territory is just a small experiment to explore the visual and experiential aspects of AR. It doesn’t attempt to replicate a real interface or device, it just plays with layering sets of information in a physical space to see how they look. I’m interested in the ‘big here‘ elements of city living, and although this video explores maps and transport connections, I’m very interested in starting to visualise other kinds of geological, historical, cultural and social data.

Of course it is a video, made using non-real-time compositing tools that are usually used for SFX work, but working with the details and playing with stuff like scale, transparency, transitions and timing gets us some of the way towards making sure that these interfaces are made right in the future.

It was made using PFHoePro which is a piece of match-moving software, of which there are plenty: PFTrack, Syntheyes and Boujou to name a few. At the moment these systems take hours to track the flow of the pixels in a short moving piece of video, and then compute the 3D space from it. We then use this 3D information to map new objects into the space in the video. Using this technology we can reveal the opportunities and constraints of possible mobile AR interfaces running in real-time.

Designers may not have the necessary skills to grapple with the API’s in Layar or the iPhone, but there is a huge role for visualisation within the design of emerging technology. I liked the vision that IDEO created around AR and journalism, they managed to get many ideas across through sketching on photos, quite good enough to create debate about the potentials and concerns for such a system.

Do you have any favorite concept videos that have been passed by? Share them in the comments.

We are working on getting Timo to Where 2.0 2010. I’ll keep you posted.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/5/167/942 Ken Williams

    {{Like all good concept pieces it leaves the “how” for a developer to be inspired by and leaves the “what” for us to marvel at.}}

    Seriously?

    If anything like this gets “real” anytime soon, it will be the “how” that’s the amazing part. I don’t really see any new “what” here anyway. People have imagined magic maps on surfaces at least since the evil stepmother in Cinderella did it.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ken-williams/5/167/942 Ken Williams

    Oops, I guess that was Snow White, not Cinderella. I should have known that, given how princess-crazy my daughter is. =)

  • http://twitter.com/genebecker Gene Becker

    Artist Eric Epstein did a mind-blowingly cool AR-style concept video, also using PFHoePro: http://bit.ly/XAKQr

    Getting this kind of thing to work properly in real time will require a whole lot of image processing and computational zorch, or else some extremely clever shortcuts. Earthmine’s vision of a global 1cm resolution 3d point cloud could give us the physical world geometry, and mobile GPUs might give us the compositing power to embed 3d objects and animations, but it’s going to be awhile before it’s all ready to roll.

  • http://twitter.com/genebecker Gene Becker

    Artist Eric Epstein did a mind-blowingly cool AR-style concept video, also using PFHoePro: http://bit.ly/XAKQr

    Getting this kind of thing to work properly in real time will require a whole lot of image processing and computational zorch, or else some extremely clever shortcuts. Earthmine’s vision of a global 1cm resolution 3d point cloud could give us the physical world geometry, and mobile GPUs might give us the compositing power to embed 3d objects and animations, but it’s going to be awhile before it’s all ready to roll.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Blu3fish Brennan

    This reminds me of MIT’s 6th Sense device (w/o the device).

    Can only find the TED demo but there’s another floating around on youtube:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html

  • http://twitter.com/mathemagie aurelien
  • http://www.allthingsthatrise.com Giovanni Rodriguez

    I second what Brennan says above. The Pattie Maes TED demo shows that “augmented reality without the device” is beyond concept stage. http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/

  • http://www.blog.tropicalismo360.com tropicalismo360

    I have admired Timo’s work from afar for years. This is great stuff.
    I have had a look at related issues for architects in a recent post at http://su.pr/2EfhLz

  • http://highearthorbit.com Andrew Turner

    Perhaps Maptor (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10316753-1.html) can converge to provide this type of functionality?

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  • http://friendfeed.com/jennpalm Jennifer Palm

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