AR Bike Parking

Another possible placement for a bike corral.

A month ago, we were making party prizes appear on a desk. Now we are making bikes appear in the streets. Continuing our exploration of augmented reality software, we have been experimenting with ways to visualize what new bike corrals would look like around our office.

With a printed marker, a SketchUp model, and an iPhone or iPad, this is what can happen:

Voila! We've created a credible image of what the bikes and racks will look like, and it can be done almost anywhere, in real time. There are some limitations:

  • A clear view of the marker and test space is required for best results. That is, the software can't tell if there are objects in the environment that should appear in front of the model. And if the computer can't see the whole marker, it won't place the model.
  • There is a limited distance the camera can be from the marker (before the marker gets too small for the program to identify it), this restricts the amount of context that can be seen around the model.
  • The models do not cast shadows making them slightly less realistic.

This technique won't replace simulated photos, which provide better realism after carefully matching scale, view angle, and shadows. However, the real time aspect of augmented reality makes it a powerful tool for a variety of applications. In this case, we see how street improvements would look in a neighborhood setting. The augmented reality system could just as well be used to help factory managers locate safety equipment within a warehouse or help witnesses accurately recreate a crime scene.

Cody Burchfield was an intern at Fat Pencil Studio in 2013.