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May 23, 2019
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Reality Check: The marvel of computer vision technology in today’s camera-based AR systems

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British science fiction writer, Sir Arther C. Clark, once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Augmented reality has the potential to instill awe and wonder in us just as magic would. For the very first time in the history of computing, we now have the ability to blur the line between the physical world and the virtual world. AR promises to bring forth the dawn of a new creative economy, where digital media can be brought to life and given the ability to interact with the real world.

AR experiences can seem magical but what exactly is happening behind the curtain? To answer this, we must look at the three basic foundations of a camera-based AR system like our smartphone.

  1. How do computers know where it is in the world? (Localization + Mapping)
  2. How do computers understand what the world looks like? (Geometry)
  3. How do computers understand the world as we do? (Semantics)

Part 1: How do computers know where it is in the world? (Localization)

Mars Rover Curiosity taking a selfie on Mars. Source: https://www.nasa.gov/jpl/msl/pia19808/looking-up-at-mars-rover-curiosity-in-buckskin-selfie/

When NASA scientists put the rover onto Mars, they needed a way for the robot to navigate itself on a different planet without the use of a global positioning system (GPS). They came up with a technique called Visual Inertial Odometry (VIO) to track the rover’s movement over time without GPS. This is the same technique that our smartphones use to track their spatial position and orientation.

A VIO system is made out of two parts.

News Source = techcrunch.com

The Instagif is a camera that “prints” animated GIFs

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Have you ever wanted to print an animated image? Well now you (almost) can. A maker named Abhishek Singh has created an instant camera that outputs a little box that contains a Raspberry Pi connected to a PiTFT screen. When you take a picture the camera transmits a short video to the screen which the plays it over and over again until you take another picture. The entire project is hand-designed and 3D printed and it’s a clever little hack that you can even build yourself.

Singh made a how-to for folks wishing to follow in his hacking footsteps. This isn’t even Singh’s first GIF project. His robot, called Peeqo, also responded entirely in GIFs along with standard Alexa conversations. Singh was part of NYU’s ITP program and this project came about thanks to his love of “building things, animated movies, and GIFs.”

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could 3D print a camera that printed out a flip book? Maybe that could be Singh’s next project.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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