New AR System Lets Smartphone Users Interact With Virtual Objects

Researchers at Brown University have developed a software system that turns cell phones into augmented reality portals. This new system called “portal-ble” enables users to use their hands to manipulate virtual building blocks, furniture, and other objects as if they were really there. The researchers hope this new system can be a tool for artist, engineers, game developers, and others to experiment with augmented reality (AR).

The platform makes use of a small infrared sensor mounted on the back of a phone. The sensor tracks the position of people’s hands in relation to virtual objects, enabling users to pick objects up, turn them, stack them or drop them. Also, the researchers added sensory feedback—visual highlights on objects and phone vibrations—to make interactions easier.

The source code for Andriod is freely available for download on the researchers’ website, and iPhone code will follow soon.


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