OCT 21, 2019 09:55 PM PDT

Augmented Reality System Gives Smartphone Users an Interactive Experience

WRITTEN BY: Nouran Amin

Researchers have developed a software system that converts cell phones into augmented reality (AR) portals that allows users to place virtual building blocks into real-world backdrops. The systems development stems from a small infrared sensor mounted on the back of a phone. Referred to as ‘Portal-ble’, the AR platform can someday serve as a crucial tool for artists, designers and game developers.

A new augmented reality platform gives smartphone users the capacity to use their hands to manipulate virtual objects on real backgrounds. Credit: Huang Lab / Brown University

"AR is going to be a great new mode of interaction," said Jeff Huang, an assistant professor of computer science at Brown who developed the system with his students. "We wanted to make something that made AR portable so that people could use anywhere without any bulky headsets. We also wanted people to be able to interact with the virtual world in a natural way using their hands."

Current AR apps that place virtual objects into real-world scenes require the users to swipe on the screen.

"Swiping just wasn't a satisfying way of interacting," Huang said. "In the real world, we interact with objects with our hands. We turn doorknobs, pick things up and throw things. So we thought manipulating virtual objects by hand would be much more powerful than swiping. That's what's different about Portal-ble."

The main purpose of Portal-ble is to produce the appropriate resources and feedback materials necessary to allow users to interact with virtual objects.

"It turns out that picking up a virtual object is really hard if you try to apply real-world physics," Huang said. "People try to grab in the wrong place, or they put their fingers through the objects. So we had to observe how people tried to interact with these objects and then make our system able accommodate those tendencies."

Learn more:

"It's a little like what happens when people draw lines in Photoshop," Huang said. "The lines people draw are never perfect, but the program can smooth them out and make them perfectly straight. Those were the kinds of accommodations we were trying to make with these virtual objects."

Source: Brown University

About the Author
  • Nouran enjoys writing on various topics including science & medicine, global health, and conservation biology. She hopes through her writing she can make science more engaging and communicable to the general public.
You May Also Like
NOV 14, 2019
Technology
NOV 14, 2019
Artificial Compound Eye Improves 3D Object Tracking
Flies are fast-reacting creatures and can sense movement quickly. Researchers have now used flies as their inspiration by developing an artificial insect i...
NOV 14, 2019
Technology
NOV 14, 2019
PLOT-cryo: A High Tech Sniffing Device
It’s no secret that stink is science cooking and so chemist Megan Harries, a postdoctoral fellow and chemist at the National Institute of Standards a...
NOV 14, 2019
Cancer
NOV 14, 2019
Handheld device detects skin cancer
I can’t be the only one who has ever looked at a suspicious freckle and wondered, “Could this be skin cancer?” Of course, when 9,500 Amer...
NOV 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 14, 2019
How Large Solar Storms Can Impact Earth's Power Grid
The Sun is a powerful ball of energy, and with that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that it can sometimes become unstable. Over time, the...
NOV 14, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 14, 2019
Artifical leaf produces syngas
New research funded by the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and the Engineer...
NOV 14, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 14, 2019
"Sea-thru" Algorithm Clarifies Underwater Photos
Have you ever tried to take photographs underwater, only to be sorely disappointed by the results? Pictures of vivid underwater scenery usually appear very...
Loading Comments...