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I recall being pretty impressed with this augmented reality demo created by Boffswana last November. The basic idea is that you can use a webcam to track the real-world location and rotation of a special printed symbol. With this information, you can overlay a virtual object on top of the video stream and render it to match the position information of the symbol card. Called “augmented reality,” the technique gives you a way to interact with digital entities as if they were physical objects.

You can create your own augmented reality programs without having to roll your own tracking code. There’s a library called FLARToolKit that takes care of the heavy lifting of symbol recognition and spatial tracking. The code for the Boffswana demo is also available, and you can see how they used FLARToolKit along with Papervision3D to pull their demo off.

I should also mention that the FLARToolKit code could be used for purposes other than augmented reality. I’m sure there are other applications for a webcam-based input mechanism that can deliver accurate 3D location and orientation info.

What would you use this for?

FLARToolKit
FLARToolKit Examples At Tarotaro.org
Boffswana AR Papervision3D Demo and Source


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Comments

  1. Eddie Edwards says:

    I don’t know who Boffswana is but this exact idea was a SIGGRAPH paper in around 2004. Don’t Sony have a PS3 product based on it by now? Not sure if it was ever released but IIRC you had trading cards and the Eye camera could read special 2D barcodes on them and then augment them with the character from the trading card. Then the 3D guys could fight with each other and stuff. It was pretty neat.

  2. Yahid says:

    I saw this some time ago, with a little girl character where she was pushed away with ‘a real’ finger, either way, I really like to find out more about this, do you know any site where I can find some tutorials (in english if possible) or explain more about FLARToolkit.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sony’s building in Tokyo actually uses this tech at the main info kisok thingy. You take a paper map of the building, hold it under a camera, and it gives you a 3D floorplan on the screen above. Its pretty neat, as you tilt the paper, the 3D representation also tilts, and varying the distance between the paper and the camera changes what floor is shown.

  4. Sysadmn says:

    http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/augmented_reality

    With a link to the source for the Flart toolkit on the main page.

  5. ericsoco says:

    i wrote a small framework called FLARManager that provides a quicker and/or more flexible entry point into using FLARToolkit:

    check it out here:
    http://words.transmote.com/wp/20090309/flarmanager-v01/

    great to see this on Make — i’m hoping my framework gets more people making more stuff ;)

  6. Mato says:

    simple example experimenting with flartoolkit and anaglyph glasses

    http://secd.unl.edu/~mbentz/flart_example/SimpleCube.html

  7. Milo says:

    What would I use this for?

    Telling my robot where it is. Say you’re building an industrial robot to haul stuff across a warehouse. You could track your robots movement via wheel rotations or perhaps some building-positioning-system.

    But why not just stick AR markers on waypoints? More reliable then GPS or movement tracking; Cheaper then local positioning.

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