At first glance, the perceptoscope looks just like your typical pair of scenic pedestal binoculars. The design closely mimics the recognizable form factor you would find at many landmarks and museums. However, inside the perceptoscope you’ll find much more than the typical binocular optics.

The perceptoscope is an augmented reality device for fixed locations. Before getting too much into the specifics, imagine that you could walk up to a perceptoscope placed near the Empire State building. You look through the eye pieces and you see the city as it was before the building was constructed. At the flip of a switch you can watch the building take shape right in front of you. All this, with true 3D vision and motion tracking.

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The stationary aspect of the perceptoscope gives it several advantages making implementation much easier than something like the Microsoft hololens or CastAR. Since it is stationary, you can program it with an exact position in mind. The angles of rotation in both axes are measured precisely in a mechanical fashion, so no complicated tracking systems are necessary at all. The standard form factor of a landscape viewer allows for plenty of room to add electronics and fancy optics.

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Ben Sax, the creator explains that the prototype on display has an Intel NUC (an x86 mini computer), an LCD screen, a set of prisms and lenses to combine the LCD and real world before it hits your eyes. As for software, Ben wants to keep things as open as possible, allowing people to develop whatever content they want. It is currently based off of Node.js for linking everything together and WebVR for the actual rendering.

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To learn more about the perceptoscope, check out the project’s website, perceptoscope.com.