For my first entry on the Fat Pencil blog, I present an exploration of augmented reality. Augmented reality is an emerging technique that uses a camera and software to make an image or 3D model appear within a photographed scene. The software scans the scene for markers and reacts to those markers, presenting a model or image as if it were actually there in the real space. Many companies are using it for advertising purposes because the software can be used on mobile devices: you can download an app and then point your iPhone or iPad at anything from a billboard to a magazine and additional imagery or video will pop up on the screen. Here is an example of a cool use of augmented reality that brings cinema into the street where it was actually filmed:
At Fat Pencil Studio, we are interested in practical uses for this technology. If we could use it make our 3d models appear in the real world, we could avoid modeling the environment and easily move that model around to see where it might look or fit best. This of course relies on the software making the model look realistic within the photographed scene. The most promising option came from AR-Media, which has created an augmented reality plug-in for SketchUp. We experimented with the software quite a bit and found it promising but somewhat finicky, especially when taking the marker outside where lighting issues compromised the software’s ability to recognize the markers. With time and tweaking, I am sure it could function much more smoothly.
In the short run, we were fully able to use augmented reality to have some fun at the Ford Building last Friday June 7th at our open studio event. We handed out custom markers and invited people to come to our office and put them under the webcam, revealing a prize to them on the screen: