Let’s back up for a second. You hear terms like “spatially augmented reality” or “projection mapping,” and it may seem as though you’ve wound up in the latest movie adaptation of a Philip Dick sci fi short story. When we talk about these terms, we really mean one thing: getting projection off of flat, rectangular surfaces on walls and onto other stuff. It’s escaping the Drive-In Movie effect and layering digital images on top of the real world.

Remapping the projection image requires some number crunching. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, you have a supercomputer-powerful number cruncher sitting right next to you in the form of your computer. So what everyone is waiting on now is smarter toolkits for making projection more possible.

Brett Jones, a Masters Candidate in the Department of Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, writes to describe his latest project.

First, I wanted to say that I am an avid follower of your blog and greatly appreciate the time it must take be on the forefront of the video projection mapping blogosphere.

I wanted to let you know about a post that you might find particularly interesting.

I am currently working on a spatially augmented reality/projection mapping toolkit at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We recently posted two videos that might be of interest.

The first video is a work in progress demo of our toolkit and the second video is a new media installation piece that demonstrates the complex mappings that are possible.

What’s especially cool about this technique is that tracking uses embedded light sensors. A game engine can then map very accurately onto boxes and even mannequin heads.

It’s good stuff, and given how much mileage we’ve gotten out of walls by being creative with content, imagine how much more you could get out of additional projection surfaces – now with easier, accurate three-dimensional mappings?

We’ll be following this one, for sure, especially once the toolkit is ready for public consumption. Thanks, Brett!

Spatially Augmented Reality Toolkit (Work in progress videos)
Projection Mapping Demo

…both via the Augmented Engineering blog by Brett Jones and Rajinder Sodhi.

And, wow, this is wonderfully creepy:

  • http://www.aribraginsky.com Ari Braginsky

    Very cool!

  • massta

    yes, cool.
    just waiting for the software to come out way so we can explore it more easily. For now I suppose I could just set up a projector looking at some fixes boxes, then create them in Touch's 3D environment and use movies at materials for each side. Could even create a second camera to output to a second projector.

  • http://www.digitalfunfair.co.uk gavspav

    You could even get the markers tattooed on your finger tips and you'd have a multi touch surface – which only you could use.

  • Yak

    Wow, that automated mapping is amazing! Too bad the box needs embedded light sensors or else you could do some really crazy on the fly projection mapping.

  • massta

    gavspav, thanks man, didn't think of that…

    Yak, how about a interlocking sides of a box that can transform throughout the set? You would still need to flash the coordinate sensing, but maybe they could add a cool graphic to it instead generic white bars.

  • Drew

    Didn't Johnny Chung Lee come up with this?

    I thought he had that patented.
    Here is his thesis work on it: http://johnnylee.net/projects/thesis/

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  • http://www.jerrem.com/notes Jerrem

    great stuff, If this could be converted into a freeframeGL plugin for resolume 3 I'd be a very happy man.

  • http://www.jordipages.com/ Jordi Pages

    Wow that would make my life my easier…

    If you would like to try that on a bigger scale tell me something, I would be really interested…

    Check out the scale I mean: http://www.jordipages.com/

    Good work!