AR Scouting - An Expert User Interface for Outdoor Data Collection
Augmented Reality (AR) for outdoor mobile computing is a recent
research area which tries to superimpose computer-generated images
onto the user's perception of the real world envionment using mobile
devices. Previous work in that field is demonstrated in various applications. Starting in 2001,
back-pack systems in combination with see-through head mounted
displays and different sensors were able to register 3D information in
outdoor scenarios. However, recent technologies such as the Sony Vaio
UX or other similar ultra-mobile PCs (UMPCs) allow a more ubiquitous
computing and light-weight environment for outdoor Augmented
Reality. Even on recent cell (smart) phones, tracking and 3D rendering
with interactive framerates can be achieved since cameras and a 3D
graphics chip are already available on these devices (see the handheld AR project for details). These
emerging technologies allow us to introduce a new concept in the field
of outdoor Augmented Reality: the AR scout.
AR scouting is a new idea for outdoor Mixed and Augmented Reality
applications. A scout is a person who is equipped with light-weight
mobile devices such as an ultra-mobile PC (see images below) typically
with a mounted low-end camera. In addition, tracking sensors such as a
GPS receiver or an interia tracker can be applied for getting position
and orientation information.
The Sony Vaio UX90 (left) and the Samsung Q1 (right) are recent ubiquitous devices which seem to be applicable for
outdoor mobile augmented reality. Both have a camera and can therefore register 3D information to the real world.
The AR scout application provides an expert mobile user interface which
allows a specialist collecting various kinds of data within a unknown
environment. Since the scout is connected to a network (using HSDPA or
GPRS), the data is delivered on-the-fly and can be processed
interactively. Therefore, a collaboration with a bigger audience can
be achieved. Due to an online communication channel, the audience
which typically has a birds eye view on the exploring environment can
guide the scout to desired locations. The data delivered by the scout
can be of various types: images, sounds,
videos. By using a sequence of 2D images, even 3D models of the
real environment can be captured (see interactive 3D reconstruction for details).
Mobile Reconstruction Setup
The reconstruction setup consists of several components. The handheld
ultra-mobile PC (Samsung Q1) acts as main input and output device. By
using the Studierstube
environment, a small image capture application was developed with a
simple user interface. The figure below shows the front and
the back side of the Samsung Q1 UMPC. The reconstruction pipeline itself
is described at the following link.
Front view of the Samsung Q1 shows the live video captured by the
USB camera. A tip on the display triggers the capture routine. The USB
camera and the GPS receiver are mounted on the back side.
Georeferenced Video Streaming
The AR scout is able to create a live georeferenced video stream, which is
transmitted over a network. A first prototype was developed, consisting of the following parts:
Sony Vaio UX90 as the main input/output device
GPS module for gathering position data
Intertia sensor for orientation measurements
External camera, replacing the internal camera of the UMPC
802.11 draft-n wifi for network transmission
The device was successfully deployed on the IPCity workshop of June 2009 in Paris, where the
live video stream was sent to the mixed reality tent and the
urban sketcher. The
native views of these applications, which are restricted to changes in orientation, were supplemented by
a freely moving camera.
Left: The IPCity tent and a fixed camera to the left, the AR scout device in action on the right. Right: A closeup of the device.
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