Categories
Technology

‘Fairy Lights’ Touchable Holograms using lasers

This is an amazing technology called ‘Fairy Lights’ that creates touchable holograms using lasers. Notice that the hologram is interactive, it can change state during and after the touch. No glasses or goggles are required. The possibilities of this for film, theater, video games and theme parks are nearly endless.

From IEEE spectrum.

We’ve seen a few holographic technologies that have come close; they rely on optical tricks of one sort or another to make it seem like you’re seeing an image hovering in front of you.

There’s nothing wrong with such optical tricks (if you can get them to work), but the fantasy is to have true midair pixels that present no concerns about things like viewing angles. This technology does exist, and has for a while, in the form of laser-induced plasma displays that ionize air molecules to create glowing points of light. If lasers and plasma sound like a dangerous way to make a display, that’s because it is. But Japanese researchers have upped the speed of their lasers to create a laser plasma display that’s touchably safe.

Researchers from the University of Tsukuba, Utsunomiya University, Nagoya Institute of Technology, and the University of Tokyo have developed a “Fairy Lights” display system that uses femtosecond lasers instead. The result is a plasma display that’s safe to touch.

Each one of those dots (voxels) is being generated by a laser that’s pulsing in just a few tens of femtoseconds. A femotosecond is one millionth of one billionth of one second.  The researchers found that a pulse duration that minuscule doesn’t result in any appreciable skin damage unless the laser is firing at that same spot at one shot per millisecond for a duration of 2,000 milliseconds. The Fairy Lights display keeps the exposure time (shots per millisecond) well under that threshhold:

Our system has the unique characteristic that the plasma is touchable. It was found that the contact between plasma and a finger causes a brighter light. This effect can be used as a cue of the contact. One possible control is touch interaction in which floating images change when touched by a user. The other is damage reduction. For safety, the plasma voxels are shut off within a single frame (17 ms = 1/60 s) when users touch the voxels. This is sufficiently less than the harmful exposure time (2,000 ms).

Even cooler, you can apparently feel the plasma as you touch it:

Shock waves are generated by plasma when a user touches the plasma voxels. The user feels an impulse on the finger as if the light has physical substance. The detailed investigation of the characteristics of this plasma-generated haptic sensation with sophisticated spatiotemporal control is beyond the scope of this paper.

As you can see from the pics and video, these displays are tiny: the workspace encompasses just eight cubic millimeters. The spatiotemporal resolution is relatively high, though, at up to 200,000 voxels per second, and the image framerate depends on how many voxels your image needs.

To become useful as the consumer product of our dreams, the display is going to need to scale up. The researchers suggest that it’s certainly possible to do this with different optical devices. We’re holding out for something that’s small enough to fit into a phone or wristwatch, and it’s not that crazy to look at this project and believe that such a gadget might not be so far away.

For more see Digital Nature Group

Categories
Animation Disney Technology VFX

Disney’s Augmented Reality Characters from Colored Drawings

Photo from the Verge.

A Disney Research team has developed technology that projects coloring book characters in 3D while you’re still working on coloring them. The process was detailed in a new paper called “Live Texturing of Augmented Reality Characters from Colored Drawings,” and it was presented at the IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality on September 29th. That title’s a mouthful, but it’s descriptive: the live texturing technology allows users to watch as their characters stand and wobble on the page and take on color as they’re being colored in. You can see an example in the video above: the elephant’s pants are turning blue on the tablet screen just as they’re being filled on the page itself.

Coloring books capture the imagination of children and provide them with one of their earliest opportunities for creative expression. However, given the proliferation and popularity of digital devices, real-world activities like coloring can seem unexciting, and children become less engaged in them. Augmented reality holds unique potential to impact this situation by providing a bridge between real-world activities and digital enhancements. In this paper, we present an augmented reality coloring book App in which children color characters in a printed coloring book and inspect their work using a mobile device. The drawing is detected and tracked, and the video stream is augmented with an animated 3-D version of the character that is textured according to the child’s coloring. This is possible thanks to several novel technical contributions. We present a texturing process that applies the captured texture from a 2-D colored drawing to both the visible and occluded regions of a 3-D character in real time. We develop a deformable surface tracking method designed for colored drawings that uses a new outlier rejection algorithm for real-time tracking and surface deformation recovery. We present a content creation pipeline to efficiently create the 2-D and 3-D content. And, finally, we validate our work with two user studies that examine the quality of our texturing algorithm and the overall App experience.

Download File “Live Texturing of Augmented Reality Characters from Colored Drawings-Paper”
[PDF, 1.72 MB]

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Categories
Cinematography Photography Technology

Game of Drones. John Bailey ASC on drone safety.

Above: a photo I took of a drone at Cine Gear Expo 2012.

Recently, I had a post that included spectacular footage of a fireworks show shot from a drone. The increase use of drones with GoPros has become both a safety and personal privacy headache.

The Seattle Police Department recently spoke with an Amazon employee who flew a drone too close to the Space Needle.

DJI has a new system called Dropsafe, drones that deploy parachutes.

From the IEEE Spectrum

According to the Hollywood Reporter there is now a new organization called the Society of Aerial Cinematographers, prompted by the increase of drone use in movie and television production.

John Bailey ASC, on his blog post called Drones, Drones, Drones, explains the many safety issues and FAA regulations about using camera drones.

…Thornier yet are certain looming questions of privacy rights, sexual “Peeping Tom” infringements, aural and visual harassments by drones buzzing around in public spaces, and the very real danger posed by malfunctioning, mis-piloted or mis-programmed drones — including higher-altitude (but still amateur) drones that already have nearly caused midair collisions with commercial jets

….I found videos of out-of-the-box amateur drones taking to the air (even as their new owners were still reading instructions) and crashing into high rises in midtown Manhattan, then falling onto the street below, nearly injuring a pedestrian.

…Just like the Steadicam before it, these small 4-rotor and 8-rotor drone helicopters mounted with HD cameras, from GoPros to  Canon 5Ds, are quickly changing the scale of imagery that can be photographed for feature films. Many productions that have been unable to afford traditional piloted helicopters with sophisticated camera-stabilizing systems can now engage a two-person ground-based crew of pilot and operator to shoot sweeping images that “open up” a film. But that is only a small part of drones’ potential as a new camera system.

Last winter, watching director Nabil Ayouch’s Horses of God, the Moroccan entry for the Academy’s foreign-film Oscar, I saw a shot that took my breath away. A group of boys are playing on a dirt soccer pitch in the Casablanca slum of Sidi Moumen. Everything is photographed at ground level, with long-lens panning shots intercut with wider-angle close coverage on the Steadicam to build up the action sequence. A very low-angle shot then follows several boys chasing the ball — and suddenly sweeps past them, rising above their heads to reveal the intricate warren of passageways in the slum beyond. The camera continues up higher for an overview of the slum and of downtown Casablanca. It is a stunning moment because it comes at the end of an eye-level sequence. It also sets up the disjunction between these still innocent, poor children playing soccer in a trash-ridden, dusty lot—- with the indifferent modern city nearby. The film climaxes with a sequence set years later, in May 2003, when these same boys, now trained suicide bombers, simultaneously blow up several buildings in downtown Casablanca, killing themselves and 33 people. This single camera move, made with a small HD camera on a drone, set up the visual and narrative flow for the rest of the film.

Here is the trailer. There are several brief cuts of the boys on the pitch early on, and a very brief overhead drone shot tracking though the slum at 0.44: