Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are turning to camera phones to help bridge the virtual and real worlds, using image-matching algorithms.
Invisible art works adorn buildings around Edinburgh
This project is known as Spellbinder. Using image-matching algorithms the researchers have found a way to adorn the real world with digital content.
“It’s about using a camera phone as a magic wand,” said Dr Mark Wright of the Division of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh who came up with the idea.
Spellbinder is a new interactive digital medium based on camera phones and image matching. Using Spellbinder, digital content can be embedded in the real world by taking a photograph of an object or place. The digital content can be released by another user by taking another photograph of the same location. Spellbinder does not require special markers or barcodes to be placed in the world and works indoors or outdoors. Unlike tracking technologies such as global positioning systems, the focus is on what specifically is being looked at rather than where the user is. The system uses the MARS image matching platform created by the Edinburgh University spinout Mobile Acuity.
Previous projects to augment the real world with digital content used barcodes on objects or a software download that participants installed on their phones.
Gamers shoot snaps of the images on rival players’ clothes
But barcodes required someone to go out labelling everything, Dr Wright said, and software can be hard to maintain and tweak for every possible handset that could use it.
The first use of the system has been in an Invisible Art project set in Edinburgh. This, said Dr Wright, encouraged people to explore the city and take snaps of landmarks to see whether others had added anything to them.
A game has also been developed using the system in which players wear a large individual image on their body and are given a “base” or location to protect.
Points are given for shooting snaps of the images on rival players’ clothes or of their base.
Another project called Comera could be a boon to keen bloggers or users of social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace as it consults the Spellbinder database to automatically update webpages with location data.
Although Spellbinder has been used to spot locations it could, said Dr Wright, be used to match almost anything.
“With Spellbinder, the real world becomes a computational resource,” he said.
The project was unveiled at the Siggraph show held in San Diego, US from 5-9 August.
Taken from BBC News
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