April 15, 2011Peter Marx
Vision-based mobile augmented reality takes the power of the smartphone and turns it into a personal, interactive entertainment medium. Game developers, advertisers and other content providers can take a printed image and bring it to life in front of one’s eyes. Never has the very small screen been so powerful and so personal.
The Camera is Key to the Experience
Every moviegoer instinctually knows that the camera is a core element of visual storytelling. Movie makers use the camera to bring the viewer into the story. In a movie I was watching last night, the Director of Photography filmed the story with cameras outside of buildings, cameras in helicopters and even cameras pointed at an actor’s hand.
All storytellers know that the available cameras define the experience that can be presented.
Similarly, almost all 3D videogames have virtual cameras to show the world of the game. The virtual cameras of a video game track the action. However, unlike movies, videogames let the user control the camera. Players know that they can switch the virtual camera from first-person (where you are seeing the game as if you were in the game itself) to third-person (where you are seeing the game from a distanced perspective).
Oftentimes the cameras are a key marketing feature of the game as they let the player interact with the game in whatever way they choose.
By comparison, Qualcomm’s vision-based augmented reality platform gives the user the power to move the game camera anywhere — and this means that the developer must create 3D geometry that works with any possible camera angle.
Where many videogame developers only create geometry visible to the computer-driven cameras, vision-based AR requires geometry to be built for user-driven cameras. (For example, many racing games in cities only create the facades of buildings since the game’s virtual cameras never let the players go into the buildings themselves. With vision-based AR you have to consider the insides, too.)
Vision-based augmented reality games feel even more real because the smartphone or device camera itself is the camera of the game. One moves the smartphone around and the game camera moves with you. Push in and the camera goes into the game; pull the smartphone away and the camera moves out.
The mobile technology figures out the relative geometry of the smartphone’s camera and the image target (the game ticket) to position the game’s camera to render the 3D graphics on to the smartphone’s 2D display. The AR-derived camera is the key to the game looking and feeling natural.
For the first time the level of immersion is now literally in the player’s hands.
Enjoy the game!
Augmented Reality4April 15, 20110