Building An Augmented Reality Display Using Obsolete Technology


Augmented reality might be all the rage these days, but when you take a closer look at the technology, you will find that these sorts of optical illusions are not new at all.

Artist [Sebastian Schmieg] was pondering augmented reality for a bit and decided he could replicate the effect using old and obsolete technology. His creation, called “81 Points of View”, uses an old Kodak slide projector and an elaborate mechanical setup to simulate the effect.

The slide projector resides on a platform that can be rotated around its center in 81 steps. After each movement, the mechanism swaps out the current slide, selecting the next image depending on which direction the user turns. The resulting effect is similar to the implementations of augmented reality you might see today, with a 3d visualization superimposed on the surrounding room.

The concept dates back all the way to the 1860’s, when [John Pepper] first demonstrated the technique. Using mirrors and panes of glass, he was able to project translucent images in front of his audience, which is the same idea [Sebastian] uses in his project. You are likely quite familiar with the effect, if you have ever visited the Haunted Mansion at a Disney theme park.

It’s a neat project, though the resultant augmented reality display is obviously not quite as smooth as you would see from a smartphone. Either way, it is definitely worth checking out. Keep reading to see a video of the project in action.

[vimeo w=470]

10 thoughts on “Building An Augmented Reality Display Using Obsolete Technology

  1. I hate to be this kind of person, especially on a website about home-brew tech, but slides and slide projectors are nowhere near obsolete. (Feel free to argue about resolution and crap all you want, that’s now what I’m talking about) Slide film (and film in general) is still the most respected and widely used medium in professional photography. It renders colors and shadows in a way computers can’t match.

    To be clear, when I say professional photographers, I’m not talking about people who sell prints off their point-and-shoot on Etsy. I’m talking about people who make a living taking pictures.

  2. @pmac – Spayum may still be right, he was certainly right as little as 5 years ago. A lot of people are moving to DSLRs as they improve, just because of the ease of use. Slide film – technically “positive” film, not just 35mm slide film – has always had the best color reproduction, though. There’s a reason Kodachrome had a song written about it. Of course, the people that prefer positive film are the kind of people who still use 4×6″ or larger film.

  3. I thought it was funny where as soon as I clicked the link to jump over the bump, there’s a video of a guy using a slide projector, and just below it is an ad for a tiny video projector.

    I like the idea, but they really should make a better video, maybe one showing it actually working by pointing the camera at the display for a full revolution to show that it actually works rather than just showing it being used.

    Another thing, I’ll never understand those artsy people who seem to like having vast empty spaces in their buildings. You can call me a hoarder all you want for the way I fill every available space with stuff, but I usually have no problem finding the parts I need without having to go anywhere and spend money.

  4. +1 on the video comments — a bit too long on the “what this does”, and a bit short on the actual effect.

    For viewer benefit, I would suggest scaling the effect up in size. Use a larger glass canvas. Then in the video, spend a few more seconds on the effect (with the camera back a few feet from the projector… this is what I mean by scaling up).

    Special effects have diminished novelty if one has to hunch down unnecessarily.

    Overall, well done. I applaud the maker for repeating this experiment with technology many consider to be obsolete.

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