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Let the vision be augmented ... | Bernhard Reitinger ... and the realities mixed | Markus Sareika

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

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.
  • The video shows the AR scout in combination with interactive 3D reconstruction, avi (approx 40 MB)


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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last updated on 2010-02-15

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