VR and AR are great in theory, but in practice many shy away from them due to the low image quality, the limited content available and last but not least, the headset. Many are uncomfortable and heavy, keep you wired all the time and force the user to enjoy the experience alone. So, one startup came with an alternative – the Lightform device that allows users to share exactly what they see in augmented reality by ditching the headset #realitymagic
The San Francisco-based startup developed Lightform, a device that can turn any object into a screen. They think of it as the first computer made for projected augmented reality. Projection mapping, which is the scanning of an environment to project images onto it, is usually reserved for singular events. But Lightform is thinking of something more permanent for the casual user. The team believes it can not only help users share the beauty of augmented reality with others but also eliminate a big problem in projection mapping – the eventuality of moving “screens”.
By using computer vision at its full capability, Lightform can automate the alignment process, instead of teaching the user how to do it. Their computer uses depth sensors to map the form of an object, a desktop app generates effects and filters to superimposes onto that shape. So, periodically, the camera re-scans the environment and rearranges the projection on the chosen object. The user can switch animations from the app.
“New LED and laser projectors are brighter, smaller, quieter, and can operate many years maintenance free. This makes projection an increasingly viable alternative to traditional screens for permanent digital art, signage, and ambient display applications.”, believes Brett Jones, Lightform CEO.
Indeed, this could be a way of styling your office on a frequent basis or making movie nights at home incredibly special. Since it doesn’t require a headset, just a video projector, this type of augmented reality can be shared, in real time, with the whole family. The sole drawback is that you can’t interact with the projected images, like in other AR projects.
Lightform will start shipping later this year, at a price undisclosed yet, but “less than a mid-range laptop.”