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.


A Better Augmented Reality Viewing Experience

Many of us have or have tried some form of virtual reality, for a few virtual reality is a very unpleasant experience due to VR motion sickness. VR sickness is caused by conflicting signals sent to the brain from the person’s eyes, inner ear and body tissue sensory receptors.

Thanks to Cambridge engineers, VR sickness may no longer be a problem, as they have developed a new augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) that delivers a realistic 3-D viewing experience, without the commonly associated side effects of nausea or eyestrain.

The device has an enlarged eye-box that is scalable and an increased field of view of 36º that is designed for a comfortable viewing experience. It displays images on the retina using pixel beam scanning which ensures the image stays in focus regardless of the distance that the user is fixating on.

In a study conducted with more than 50 participants between the ages of 16 – 60, the participants said that the images and videos to be of vibrant color and high contrast with no observable pixels. None of the participants experienced nausea or eyestrain even after prolonged periods of usage up to all-day testing.

Multicolor Holography could change VR hardware

“Researchers have developed a new approach to multicolor holography that could be used to make 3D color displays for augmented reality glasses, smartphones or heads-up displays without any bulky optical components.” Read the full article.