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Carnegie Mellon’s Dr. Yaser Sheikh has developed a prototype augmented reality (AR) system that combines images from two or more cameras to allow drivers, for instance, to see around blind corners by making intervening structures “invisible.” In the simplest case, the image from a camera on the blind side of an obstacle is mapped, with appropriate foreshortening and in real time, onto the visible surface of the obstacle in the display from a camera at the user’s position.

The concept reminded me of a brainstorm I had during my last commercial airline flight. Crammed into a middle seat on a crowded 747, feeling claustrophobic and a bit airsick, straining to get a look out one of the distant porthole windows, I longed for a pair of AR glasses that would make the plane invisible so I could look freely around the sky. The video feeds from panoramic cameras mounted above and below the fuselage could be combined and processed through a head-tracking system so that passengers could have an unimpeded external view in any direction they cared to look–the ground, the clouds, the night-time stars up above. Such a system would have no clear commercial purpose other than passenger comfort, but think how much more enjoyable those long-haul flights could be if you were soaring through the wild blue yonder instead of staring at the back of the seat in front of you.

[via Boing Boing]

8 thoughts on “Making walls invisible with augmented reality

  1. or worse, staring a the sweaty, thinning hair, scalp of the person in front of you. Soooo grosss. We need some VR nose plugs too for when you’re sitting next to the bathroom or smelly people. Airlines could / would charge a premium fee for this VR experience so it might be worth it. How much would you pay to be alleviated from coach hell?

  2. … or drivers could be responsible for their speed for sorroundings. Nope, society has to impliment onboard radar, stabilitrack and many other tools to bring up a new generation of even LESS ATTENTATIVE drivers.
    Besides, you know the software would be lagging the fragmented image of the garbage truck coming, while the airbags are deflating and glass has stopped falling.

  3. If you’ve ever driven in Pittsburgh, you would understand why Dr. Sheikh would create such a system. This is a prime example of a problem being solved due to a hostile environment (and no, I’m not advocating turning our cities into civil engineering nightmares (one is quite enough, thank-you)).

  4. I once saw something along those lines on a History Channel program, I believe. Some engineers were attempting to develop a similar system for attack helicopter and fighter pilots. It would make the cockpit “see through” so that they could better see potential targets and threats, not too dissimilar to your “invisible airliner” idea.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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