Augmented reality, the concept of linking virtual objects and reality, is a concept that has led to some rather dubious results in the past (although it is used also in medicine, architecture and other “serious” fields for the good of mankind). Think Cybermaid Alice or the Tuttuki Box, which is – OK – not really based on augmented reality.
The University of Tokyo, Japan’s finest educational institution, has developed a new visual interface for augmented reality applications called ARScope (what a name). It’s based on a virtual image being superimposed on a real world object and then projected through a head mounted projector.
The user holds a small handheld device (in the shape of a magnifying glass, for example) that’s covered with retro-reflective material (the material reflects all light in the direction it came from). The handheld comes equipped with a camera at the back that captures the background image. Another camera that’s placed in the head set captures the images the user views.
Every time the user holds the handheld device over an object, the part occluded by the device changes its appearance. One device can be used by a number of people at the same time since different images are presented in different directions.
You can watch another video of this cool technology here.