The start-up Meta, from Columbia University, has created in partnership with Epson augmented reality glasses that allow virtual objects to be controlled in 3D space using hand gestures.
Founded by Meron Gribetz in December 2012 and by Professor Steven Feiner, an experienced developer in the field of Augmented Reality technology, the US start-up aims to go a step further than other Augmented Reality prototypes that simply offer digital overlay displays with limited control.
The two-part configuration consists of a pair of immersive clear-vision glasses with a top-mounted Microsoft Kinect 3D camera. The camera has motion tracking software that tracks a person's hands in 3D space so that they can interact with virtual objects using hand gestures.
This new Augmented Reality system is in the development phase and only exists as a prototype for the moment. It has been created using Epson's portable display glasses, the Moverio BT-100, model sold in stores for 600 euros, which projects 2D or 3D images from the temples of the glasses onto lenses that display a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels. The transparent glass still allows you to see the environment, making it easy to use on the move, so that one can move around while immersed in a virtual environment.
These Moverio glasses are controlled with a small case with a touchpad based on the Android 2.2 Froyo mobile operating system.
The detection of hand positioning is made possible by the concurrent use of a low-latency 3D camera. In the prototype, the camera overcomes the glasses. The aim of this association is to allow the person wearing the device to interact with his hands with his real environment but also with a virtual world.
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True Augmented Reality
To create its augmented reality application, Meta modified the glasses by installing a motion sensor on the frame. A gesture tracking software allows the user to control virtual objects with his fingertips.
In the demonstration video presented on its website, Meta provides some examples of applications. We see a young man at home consulting his Facebook page, which is superimposed on a window of his apartment. With a raised thumb, he sends a "like" to react to a post he has received. He's looking at online news that is displayed in 3D bubbles that he spins around like a carousel. To read an article, he grabs a bubble and opens his hand as if to spread it out in front of him.
"We're offering true augmented reality, not just a window that pops up in a corner of the screen."says Meta in her promotional video.
For the time being, the young company has not finalized this product, which it presents as a platform from which third-party developers will be able to create all kinds of applications. The first of these is video games, which can largely exploit this kind of technology mixing real and virtual, but also e-commerce.