Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AR Tagging Given a Whole New Meaning

If you've read any of my previous posts (like this, this, or this), then you probably know that I can get a little giddy when it comes to augmented reality. Thanks to my friend Haz's shared items, I have found another very cool example of having fun with augmented reality.

From the project website:
Whether walls or trains — graffiti need to be sprayed on solid, “real” backgrounds. Doesn't it?

An answer to this is provided by the “Tagged in Motion” project, which builds a bridge between real graffiti art and its virtual depiction. The centre of attention is the graffiti artist DAIM, who co-created the nextwall. Equipped with the appropriate technology, DAIM sprays graffiti into empty space. In a large hall, three cameras using Motion Capturing record DAIM's position and the movements he executes with a virtual spray can. The assimilated data is shown to him in real time in a pair of video glasses — as free-floating 3D graffiti in space. In this way he can decide how and where to apply his strokes, and via a Bluetooth controller can also determine the colours, strength of brushstrokes and textures of his work.

This extended reality thus becomes a three-dimensional graffiti canvas, on which something completely new is created: street art of the next generation!
(Image of the augmented reality setup from the project site.)

The system works using AR marker tags to depict the artist's position and virtual spray can, captured by three cameras to ensure the markers are always in view somewhere. The motion path of the spray can marker is used to position the virtual paint in the world. The results are shown to the artist (and other spectators) using a slick head-mounted display that looks to be about the size of a pair of sunglasses. (That's why the artist's position must be recorded; the 3D paint has to be rendered appropriately onto the head mounted display, and so the wearer's face's position relative to where the paint was sprayed must be known.)

Check out this video to see it in action:



I've discussed augmented reality applications for gaming as well as for geographic information systems before, but never yet for art. In fact, I must admit I hadn't really imagined the obvious potential of this technological medium for the purpose of creating something that just plain looks good. Of course, a melding of digital painting, such as can be done with Corel Painter, with the real world, so you can paint directly onto your desk for example, would definitely be very cool!

And the best part? Creating your own augmented reality system isn't even all that difficult or expensive! I recommend the new book Augmented Reality: A Practical Guide to get yourself started. All you need is a camera (even a web cam will do!) and some printed markers to get yourself started.

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