Sunday, May 23, 2010

VR Camera Demo?!?

I know this is just advertising, but it's really cool. In the new WIRED magazine, Olympus had an ad for a new digital camera called the PEN E-PL1. A nice, advanced little camera from the description, but the intriguing thing was the life-size cardboard cutout of the camera stuck to the ad. The ad's text promised an "augmented reality" demo of the camera using the cardboard cutout, a web cam, and a web site (plus a plug-in you need to install).

I decided to try it, and it works - it's very cool, but still limited. If the cardboard camera is in the web cam's field of view, their software recognizes this and replaces the cutout in the web cam scene with a 3D virtual model of the camera which features working buttons. The buttons are a bit awkward to use (holding the cardboard cutout in front of the web cam with one hand, clicking buttons with the other). You can rotate the cardboard cutout over a limited range and the VR version follows you. You can even take pictures and modify them in various ways that are supported by the real camera.

It's awkward but it sure is clever. If it were on a nice, large touch screen like the (ahem) Apple iPad, it would be a lot cooler since you could press the buttons right on screen (as I tried to do anyway on the PC screen, silly me). That's silly me in the GEB-like self-referential scene above.

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