Entertainment’s future has arrived, and it has come in the form of a developing technology known as augmented reality.
Most are already familiar with virtual reality in which technology is utilized to enable a simulated world to supplant the real one. Virtual reality immerses an individual into a complete digital environment without said person having any cognizance of the world that is surrounding him or her.
Currently, the most recognized virtual reality devices are headsets made by Facebook’s Oculus Rift or Sony’s Morpheus.
In augmented reality, the physical world is actually added on to through the addition of computer-generated imagery, sound, video, and other sensory stimulus. The result is an overlay of information and digital objects, which creates both an enhancement of the perception of reality and an environment that is interactive.
One type of augmented reality places a digital information layer atop the real world. Google Glass sought to accomplish this by allowing users to see the world through a lens, with transparent information projected into the peripheral portion of view.
Aspects of augmented reality have been used in application to televised weather broadcasts. In fact, viewers have become quite accustomed to seeing animated 3D graphics superimposed over satellite photo maps.
Sports broadcasts have also utilized augmented reality to allow audiences to see graphic overlays, which thereby assist viewers with play-by-play narratives such as the yellow first down line in a football telecast.
Virtually all of the tech giants are working on augmented reality devices, including Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Apple.
Magic Leap, an augmented reality company that received $542 million from Google, recently released a video, which showcased its technology in an ordinary real-life venue. The company’s website features a miniature elephant realistically moving around on the palms of a person’s hands.
The setting of the footage is an office, and the video begins with a male employee of the office checking his email with hand gestures via a hologram that floats in front of him. The man clicks on a video game icon, and an augmented reality video game commences. He then grabs from a desk what appears to be a toy ray gun and begins battling an invading throng of robots that forcibly gain entrance to the office in a variety of realistic ways.
The video is titled “Just another day in the office of Magic Leap.” Two companies are credited at the conclusion of the video, Magic Leap, and Weta Workshop, a movie special effects firm that worked on the film “Lord of the Rings,” among others.
Magic Leap’s technology, an alternative to stereoscopic 3D, shines 3D images on the retina of the user and allows fictional characters to interact in the real world. The technology uses sensors to recognize hand and finger gestures for computer commands, which include copy, select, back, etc., and to accurately position overlaid images within the real world,
The notion of applying augmented reality to entertainment-related projects is capturing the imagination of the entire movie industry, which has been enamored with digital effects, 3D, 4D, and a variety of other enhanced film technologies for a while now.
Augmented reality technology could create an immersive experience for movie viewers of the future; 3D film characters could appear in front, on the side, or in back of the viewer, and as a story unfolds a viewer could interact with the movie characters.
When combined with virtual reality technology, all of the senses could conceivably become involved in the entertainment experience.
Magic Leap has given its version of augmented reality a name to which Hollywood most certainly resonates: cinematic reality.