Augmented Reality has Gained Gravity

Here’s the latest AR dish from Ohan Oda and Steve Feiner at Columbia University‘s Computer Graphics and User Interfaces Lab: an augmented reality marble game that uses gravity as a game controller. No iPhone required.

See the video and recipe after the jump.

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Augmented Field Guides

The New York times ran a story yesterday about a new breed of field guides, those made not out of paper, but out data bytes and computer vision algorithms.
The article mostly revolved around a new application coming to the iPhone, that enables users to take photographs of leaves and by doing so identify the tree to which they belong.

The computer tree guide is good at narrowing down and finding the right species near the top of the list of possibilities, he said. “Instead of flipping through a field guide with 1,000 images, you are given 5 or 10 choices,” he said. The right choice may be second instead of first sometimes, “but that doesn’t really matter,” he said. “You can always use the English language — a description of the bark, for instance — to do the final identification.”

The technology comes from this group at Columbia University, which on their site you can find the academic papers describing the algorithms that were used in prior incarnations of that application. Now, I know some of you will say that this is not AR, since no image-registering was involved. Well, it fits my definition of AR (it augments our reality), and looking at a previous prototype that involves a HUD, and fiduciary markers, makes things even more obvious:

Anyway, I find this use of AR fascinating. It could really connect kids with nature, detaching them from the computer screen for a while, and transforming any outside walk into an exploration. What do you think?