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Cell phone melds video and data

"Augmented reality systems combine digital information with real-world objects, often by projecting computer displays onto walls, desk tops or windshields.

A second form of augmented reality melds digital information and real-time video to provide see-through displays that show virtual models or annotations overlaid on real-world scenes. Several teams of researchers have developed such see-through augmented reality systems for laptop computers, head-mounted displays and handheld computers.

Researchers at Bauhaus University in Germany are attempting to bring the technology to the mass market with a video see-through augmented reality system for commercial cell phones. The cell phone system inserts computer-generated three-dimensional models into real-time video shown on the cell phone's display and aligns the models with physical markers in the camera's field of view.

Cell phones are increasingly equipped with cameras and their computational capabilities are improving, said Mathias Moehring, a researcher at Bauhaus University. "Cell phones have the potential to bring augmented reality to a mass market," he said. "This project represents a first evaluation of this potential."

Projector lights radio tags

"Virtual reality puts you in a computer-generated world. Augmented reality allows for a mix of virtual reality and the real world by placing computer-generated objects in a real-world setting.

Researchers from Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs have brought dynamic, computer-generated labels into the physical world with a combination of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and portable projectors.

Their Radio Frequency Identity and Geometry (RFIG) system consists of a hand-held projector that shines dynamic images onto physical objects of the user's preference, and radio frequency identification tags augmented with photosensors, which identify objects for the projector. Radio frequency identification tags contain tiny, inexpensive chips that are read using radio waves. Photosensors detect light intensity.

The system can be used to find and track inventory, guide robots or precision handling systems on assembly lines, locate small instruments and track movement of items in health care settings, keep track of objects in homes, offices and libraries, and enable games to integrate real and virtual objects, said Ramesh Raskar, a research scientist at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs."

Twisted fiber filters light

"Researchers from the City University of New York, Queens and Chiral Photonics, Inc. have devised a way to control light inside optical fiber communications lines.

The method involves putting periodic twists in fiber to select the polarization of light that is transmitted through the fiber. The electric field of an unpolarized light pulse or beam is oriented on a plane perpendicular to the pulse or beam. When light is polarized its electric field is narrowed to one direction within the plane or rotates around the plane.

Telecommunications networks, navigation system gyroscopes, and optical current sensors that monitor electric power stations all depend on polarized light.

The method could enable faster data transmission rates in fiber-optic lines and new twists on devices like lasers and sensors."

IST project to apply 'augmented reality' to industrial maintenance tasks

"Augmented reality may sound like a futuristic concept, but for someone carrying out complex industrial repairs or maintenance, the availability of computer generated information in their field of vision as they work offers significant advantages.

Through the use of a 'near-eye display', someone working on a piece of machinery will also be able to see digital information overlaying the real scene, which could, for instance, demonstrate the step by step repairs that need to be carried out.

The main goal of the ULTRA project is to make augmented reality solutions usable on lightweight mobile devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones and other handheld devices. The consortium of three European companies and a research institute from Singapore must therefore address certain engineering, ergonomic and economic challenges in order to achieve their goal.

Project coordinator Didier Stricker, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics, says: 'The market of 3D graphics for handheld devices, such as pocket-PC or mobile phone, is coming. These devices are perfect for mobile augmented reality applications. They are very light, people are used to them and they contain all the functionalities we require, including camera and phone connection.'"


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