Another week in AR news brings us novel tech in both haptic feedback as well as virtual keyboards and a VR concert with record-breaking attendance.
We can by now see the application of AR in pretty much every field, so it comes as no surprise seeing it integrated into amusement parks, more specifically at Universal Orlando.
The amusement park has filed several patents, of which one is for an augmented reality ride system. The system includes a facial recognition sensor detecting the guest’s face, skeletal recognition software detecting a guest’s body and a sensor detecting the presence of a guest in the ride and his/her controller.
The controller includes a processor and memory, and generates AR animations based on the sensors. As the picture demonstrates below, it seems the sensors read the guests and create an image based on the readings.
Although still a patent, it goes to show how AR can be applied for unique and most definitely amusing rides.
Haptic feedback is an integral part of creating fully immersive virtual experiences. Although the past year has seen many an application, the latest comes from a research team at Carnegie Mellon University and their novel VR haptic feedback device.
The device is a sort of exoskeleton, mounted on the shoulder with strings attached to the fingers and hands, locked into place when you encounter objects, letting you feel the solidity of the object in relation to the user.
Although the device isn’t suited for smaller virtual objects like buttons, meaning its use can be limited, the researchers have still developed a lightweight, low-power device for only $35. Remains to be seen if it catches on.
Last weekend in Finland was the celebrations of May Day. Although usually celebrated en masse out in the streets and parks, this year a virtual reality concert organised by the city of Helsinki. The concert aimed at keeping people at home in these pandemic times.
The concert, headlined by Finnish rap group JVG, was a success with 12% of Finland’s population tuning in and nearly 150 000 even creating avatars themselves to join in and interact with the artists in real-time through gestures, emojis and applause.
The concert was organised in the Virtual Helsinki platform, a virtual twin of the city developed by Finnish VR company Zoan and was part of a Virtual Helsinki tourist initiative testing out the potential of VR concert and tourism.
With its given success, it proves the potential of coming together in a virtual setting. Will they replace real concerts or will they just boost the attendance of real ones remains to be seen, but in times of coronavirus, this might give way for major developments in the field.
Virtual text input using the traditional setup - typing one letter at a time, is not as fast as in real life and will slow down any task. We have seen several takes on using swipes, gestures or movement to fast track typing, with the latest take on the virtual keyboard comes from Facebook Reality Labs and their prototype for controller-less hand-tracking text input - PinchType.
The layout is a traditional keyboard, but instead of touching keys on the keyboard, groups of keys are mapped to each finger. The layout is the same as a normal keyboard, but the letters are grouped together through colour and your fingers each represents a colour. When you pinch each corresponding finger, the systems attempts to predict which word you want based on context.
The keyboard has gotten positive feedback in comparison to other virtual keyboards, but since the system relies on accurate hand tracking, holding your hands relaxed in front of your head-mounted camera might mean your fingers get occluded by your hand.
However, PinchType is yet a prototype, and as it is meant to be used both in AR and VR, vast improvements will surely be seen as developments are made.
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