Reality at center of the attention
Augmented reality (AR) is a computer science and human computer interaction field. In AR the digital application is linked to a physical context. It directly contrasts with virtual reality where the physical environment totally vanishes to immerse users.
Augmented Reality (Spatial)
- Companies: RealityTech, Lampix, Lightform, HP, Sony.
- Applications focused on physical items and objects.
- Direct interaction with touch, gestures, or physical tokens linked to the application.
- Natural collaboration , everybody sees the same thing and interact in the same way with the system that is as transparent as possible.
- Rendering is 2D and linked to the physical support that receives the projected images. 3D rendering with holographic effect is possible for one user only.
Mixed Reality (AR headset)
- Companies: Microsoft, Meta, Magic Leap.
- Application use the physical space (table, walls) as support for virtual elements.
- Indirect interaction with gestures to interact with virtua elements, or direct on objects. The precision of interfaces is a challenge.
- Collaboration is usually asymetric or requires one headset per user.
- Floating 3D objects are displayable , and they are in context: hidden by physical objects and the user's hands to maintain coherent depth perception.
Virtual Reality (headsets)
- Companies: Oculus (Facebook), HTC, Meta.
- The applications are not directly linked to the physical world.
- Indirect interaction with controllers and sometimes gestures. Controller interactions can be very precise as they are dedicated to VR. .
- Collaboration is difficult because each user is immersed in a digital world. The integration of the physical world is possible, and called “augmented virtuality”.
- The display possibilities are infinite , only limited the headset's field of view and rendering quality.
We do not discuss AR on tablet or phones, because the interaction possiblities are limited on a screen or the device needs to be held for object manipulations.
The origin of the names are explained on the wikipedia page of Milgram and Kishino's continuum.
Why choose Spatial Augmented Reality ?
At RealityTech, we want to make technology invisible and transparent: magical. Since the beginning of computing the programs are limited in screens; we want to use the incredible amount of processing power we have nowadays to make life easier. The duality digital - real world will diminish along the coming years; it should not be at the expense of manual craftmanship and collective activites.
Why is not everywhere yet ?
One reason: it is very difficult. We make these kind of applications easier to create with our hardware that solve a large part of the difficulties. The first problem is to find out what happens to the physical elements: which objects are here and which one are interactive. Then we need to find out the movements and intent of the users. The last problem is to know how and where to project applications.
Inspiration: Computer science for the physical world.
The first application developped by found of RealityTech was an application for physical drawing. At this time (and nowadays) all of the drawing applications were for bitmap drawing (pixel grid) or vectorial drawing (curves and lines) and the result is the same: a digital file. Thus all the digital tools are created for digital content, and physical content creation could not benefit from them. The goals of the programs developped during the PhD works were to develop such tools for physical drawing. The applications are not ported yet to the Nectar platform, and the dissertation is available online along with the vidéos: first video, and the construction line video.
Introduction to RealityTech during the “résidences de l'innovation” at Cap Sciences (2017) (french).
Image sources: Hololens, OSVR headset.