Thursday, May 13, 2010

Surround-o-Vision

Surround sound technology in the movie theater has become standard, and it is also a very popular technology used in homes around the world to enhance the movie experience. Surround sound essentially gives you a 3D sound experience, you can hear what is happening on and just-off camera.

Now, researchers at MIT's Media Lab have developed what they are calling Surround Vision. Envision the qualities of surround sound applied to what you are seeing visually - that seeing what's just off-camera effect.

“If you’re watching TV and you hear a helicopter in your surround sound,” says Santiago Alfaro, a graduate student in the lab who’s leading the project “wouldn’t it be cool to just turn around and be able to see that helicopter as it goes into the screen?”
They are achieving this through the use of standard, Internet-connected handheld devices. Say you are watching a sports event - football, nascar, whatever - and you want to see what is happening off the right side of the screen. All you have to do is point your cell phone (or iPad, or whatever) in that direction and the image shows up. Have more than one device? Cool, you can get more than one angle.

"How they did it: Once he’d rigged up a handheld with the requisite motion sensors, Alfaro shot video footage of the street in front of the Media Lab from three angles simultaneously. A television set replays the footage from the center camera. If a viewer points a motion-sensitive handheld device directly at the TV, the same footage appears on the device’s screen. But if the viewer swings the device either right or left, it switches to one of the other perspectives. The viewer can, for instance, watch a bus approach on the small screen before it appears on the large screen."
The next step is user studies. The researchers are partnering with various companies that have saved feature footage or are interested in developing the technology. Further applications could include interactive TV in genres such as children's programing and criminal-forensics procedural dramas.

Here's the link that includes video: http://web.mit.edu/press/2010/augmented-tv.html
(image from avtinc.net)
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