Blog Author: Maribeth Back

Generating 3D models from webcams

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One highly inconvenient thing about working with virtual worlds or 3D content in general is: where do your 3D models come from (especially if you’re on a budget)? A talented but (inevitably) overworked 3D artist? An online catalog of variable quality and cost? Messing around yourself with tools like SketchUp or Blender? What if you want something very specific, very quickly? The MIR (Mixed and Immersive Realities) team here at FXPAL is very interested in these questions and has done some work in this area. Others are working on it too: here’s an elegant demo from Qi Pan at the University of Cambridge, showing the construction of a model with textures from a webcam image:

ARdevcamp: Augmented Reality unconference Dec. 5 in Mountain View, New York, Sydney…

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We’re looking forward to participating in ARdevcamp the first weekend in December. It’s being organized in part by Damon Hernandez of the Web3D Consortium, Gene Becker of Lightning Labs, and Mike Liebhold of the Institute for the Future (among others – it’s an unconference, so come help organize!) So far, there are ~60 people signed up; I’m not sure what capacity will be, but I’d sign up soon if you’re interested. You can add your name on the interest list here.

From the wiki:

The first Augmented Reality Development Camp (AR DevCamp) will be held in the SF Bay Area December 5, 2009.

After nearly 20 years in the research labs, Augmented Reality is taking shape as one of the next major waves of Internet innovation, overlaying and infusing the physical world with digital media, information and experiences. We believe AR must be fundamentally open, interoperable, extensible, and accessible to all, so that it can create the kinds of opportunities for expressiveness, communication, business and social good that we enjoy on the web and Internet today. As one step toward this goal of an Open AR web, we are organizing AR DevCamp 1.0, a full day of technical sessions and hacking opportunities in an open format, unconference style.

AR DevCamp: a gathering of the mobile AR, 3D graphics and geospatial web tribes; an unconference:
# Timing: December 5th, 2009
# Location: Hacker Dojo in Mountain View, CA

Looks like there will be some simultaneous ARdevcamp events elsewhere as well – New York and Manchester events are confirmed; Sydney, Seoul, Brisbane, and New Zealand events possible but unconfirmed.

Print media and augmented reality


December’s issue of Esquire features augmented reality not only on its cover but a couple of places inside. This is not the first instance of AR on print media, of course, but it’s nicely done. I’d love to see this sort of thing make its way into scientific publishing eventually, for 3d and animated illustrations and data visualization. Right now authors can put digital content related to their work out on the web, but it’s an altogether different subjective experience when it’s integrated into the printed object (book, journal, etc.).

Here’s a video tour of the AR in the Esquire issue:

And comments from mashable:

“Print might be in trouble, but Esquire magazine won’t be going gently into that good night. The December issue of the magazine will feature augmented reality pages that will come alive when displayed in front of a webcam.

Augmented reality is a trend and phenomenon we’re starting to see more and more uses of across the web. In March, GE played with augmented reality while showing off its Smart Grid technology. Earlier this month, musician John Mayer released an augmented reality enhanced music video. The iPhone app that was released earlier this week also utilizes some AR features.”

Designing User Friendly Augmented Work Environments


We’re happy to note that the book “Designing User Friendly Augmented Work Environments” (edited by Saadi Lahlou) has been published by Springer, in hardcover with an online version available. We have a chapter in it on our USE smart conference room system: “Designing an Easy-to-Use Executive Conference Room Control System.” The chapter starts with some of the field work we did to understand the work flows of the stakeholders, and then describes the evolution of the system we built to support the executive, his assistant, and others who used the meeting room. The system developed during this project was the precursor to the DICE system.

The process of writing and publishing this chapter took a considerable amount of time, and thus it is interesting to look back on some of our early designs to see how they have evolved. One aspect that changed was the name of project: we started out calling the system USE (Usable Smart Environment) and that terminology is used in the book chapter. By the time we completed this project and moved onto the larger conference room, we changed the name to DICE (Distributed Intelligent Conferencing Environment). DICE now runs in both rooms, and USE is the name of Gene’s group, just to add to the confusion.

For more information on this work, check out the video, some before/after pictures, and the CHI 2009 paper. We’re also working on a journal article that extends the CHI findings. Look for it in a few years!

Social Media Rules


Social media: a bigger game-changer than the Gutenberg press? More popular than porn on the Internet?

Socialnomics has collected some very persuasive stats into this beautifully designed dynamic-text video, “Social Media Revolution.” It’s worth watching in HD, full-screen mode (you’ll need to click through to YouTube for that though). Also, some YouTube commenters take issue with a few of the stats – so I wouldn’t necessarily use this for source material. I think it’s true in essence, however.

Ode to Google Wave


OK, it’s a sonnet, not an ode, but still. Making Light is one of my favorite blogs, run by science fiction editors Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden; it has a rich subject range and a great community of commenters. I also enjoy its commenters’ tendency to break into verse at the least provocation. Google Wave (which Jeremy discussed here) was the topic of a recent post titled “Panhandling for invites” in which Abi Sutherland offers this delight:

The sea has depths in which no net is cast,
With trackless kelpine forests where great squid,
Like Sasquatch in his mountains safely hid,
Dance dreaming with the fishes swimming past.
And human interaction is the same.
Beneath an email surface lies the deep:
Unmodeled work and social patterns creep
And spread in ways existing tools don’t frame.

Go here to see the whole sonnet.

Workshop: Virtual Worlds in 2020

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A quick pointer to a workshop sponsored by SDForum’s Virtual Worlds SIG  (which I co-chair along with Bob Ketner of The Tech and  Eilif Trondsen of SRI-BI):

The “Virtual Worlds in 2020” Workshop
Palo Alto, CA
Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009

From the program description:
This is the 3rd annual “Future of Virtual Worlds” session – the Virtual Worlds in 2020 Workshop. This year it’s an interactive workshop where you can bring ideas, input, and questions for a rare, long term view of virtual worlds, at the Virtual Worlds SIG.

In just a few weeks we enter a new decade equipped with abilities that existed only in science fiction a few years ago. Although plans for using using graphical, collaborative virtual worlds predate the internet itself by many years, many advances in productivity remain unclaimed. It’s time now to take a look ahead. This workshop will produce a set of inputs showing what might be possible – along with a list of challenges to be overcome along the way over the next decade. Continue Reading

SDForum VWSIG: Nokia on Augmented Reality


The SDForum Virtual World SIG (which I co-chair with Bob Ketner of The Tech and Eilif Trondsen of SRI-BI) will feature a look at Nokia’s augmented reality work next Monday, August 24, in Palo Alto. Details and directions are here.

Kari Pulli, Research Fellow and Radek Grzeszczuk, Principal Scientist at Nokia Research Center in Palo Alto, will present an inside look at some of their augmented reality work and speculate on possibilities for both near- and long-term.

Pillsbury Winthrop Office Silicon Valley
2475 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA 94304-1114

Online media to be linked from at time of event.

6:30 PM Registration and Networking
7:00 PM -8:40 PM Presentations

Tangible Tools for Design


We are happy to see that the summer issue of the AIEDAM journal is now published (editors:  Ellen Yi-Luen Do and Mark D. Gross). It contains our article on the electronic-paper-based Post-Bits system, “Prototyping a tangible tool for design: Multimedia e-paper sticky notes.”

So, what are Post-Bits? We were looking for new ways to use e-paper, and at the same time, we were (and are) very interested in tangible tools for enhancing all kinds of work. This project started when Takashi Matsumoto interned here at FXPAL.  You can see Takashi talking about Post-Bits in the video below the fold:

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Tangibles Day at FXPAL

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Last week we had two interesting visitors who each gave talks in the area of tangible computing. (Briefly, tangible computing explores ways of interacting with computers using real-world physical objects; much more info can be found online including at the Tangible Media Group at the MIT Media Lab). FXPAL has done a number of tangible interface projects over the years, including the PostBits project, the Convertible Podium, and others.

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