Virtual Mirror: augmented reality without glasses

The Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute — the same Fraunhofer that holds many of the patents on MP3 — have a booth at CEATEC exhibiting some of their research efforts, shopping them around for potential licensees. Their Virtual Mirror display is, I think, a great example of augmented reality done right. It uses a camera, a display, and their special software to dynamically alter the image projected back to the viewer.

The concept of a mirror realizes augmentation without the customer needing to wear glasses. No additional equipment has to be used as you can just step into the application and move freely like in front of a real mirror. This significantly enhances acceptability and immsersiveness while also reducing the effort needed for supervising such an application.

Here’s a quick video:

Note how the shadows of the shirt are preserved. This is the kind of detail that really makes augmented reality believable. Without that nuance, our brains (or at least my brain) kind of gives up trying to make the whole thing work. I was particularly impressed by how well the deformations were preserved as the guy stretched and pulled his shirt.

And I stand corrected: the lady watching and not-watching TV at CEATEC does not have the best job of the event. This guy does!

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