Augmented Reality Roundup: AR Still Has Some Tricks Up Its Sleeve

It’s a strange time for augmented reality (AR). On the one hand, it’s being asked to buck up its ideas because it hasn’t fulfilled its promise just yet. On the other, the industry is continuing to deliver new and interesting uses that keep cropping up on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

Recently, it got a shot in its augmented arm by the The New York Times, who speculated last week that Google wants to produce AR glasses by year’s end, which has been given further validation by WIRED, reporting that Google is hiring AR experts. So at the end of the day, AR emerges as still a contender, and our augmented promised land is still visible on the horizon, which you can just about make out if you squint hard enough through the looking glasses.

With that in mind, we lassoed a few developments together into a roundup showing the technology is still fighting fit:

MIT Augmented Rope

The brainiacs over at MIT, namely graduate student Lining Yao and her colleagues, have created an AR rope gaming system called Rope Revolution, which can be used by players to team up across the distance of continents or even more locally, like in the same room, to fly a kite, skip, or ride a horse, with tug of war in the works. It uses a sensor in the wall and an accelerometer built into the rope handle to recognize different gestures and also produce rope resistance.

Microsoft’s “Holoflector”

Using a translucent mirror, an LCD panel that sits three feet behind the mirror, and a Kinect, this set up is able to render graphics which appear as a reflection in real-time, but are in fact a tracked virtual copy. It means it can display graphics on or around people and objects. They’ve also integrated the Windows Phone into it to create a “sensor fusion” between phone and Kinect, with the two working together to enhance the experience.

Sesame Street Augmented Reality Dolls

Using a tablet and the Vuforia augmented reality platform, Bert and Ernie dolls come to life inside their apartment. Using different props placed inside their home, the perennial faves can watch TV and even listen to music on a virtual jukebox. Other props include a toilet (?) and car. If they can augment Johnny Cash duetting with Oscar the Grouch then I know what my Christmas present is going to be.

Total Immersion’s AR Racing Game

With this one, you get put into the driver’s seat using a webcam to plant your head inside the racer’s helmet in a realistic manner using face tracking technology. Other fun things include being able to use anything that resembles a steering wheel to drive the car.