Let’s back up for a second. You hear terms like “spatially augmented reality” or “projection mapping,” and it may seem as though you’ve wound up in the latest movie adaptation of a Philip Dick sci fi short story. When we talk about these terms, we really mean one thing: getting projection off of flat, rectangular surfaces on walls and onto other stuff. It’s escaping the Drive-In Movie effect and layering digital images on top of the real world.

Remapping the projection image requires some number crunching. But, in case you hadn’t noticed, you have a supercomputer-powerful number cruncher sitting right next to you in the form of your computer. So what everyone is waiting on now is smarter toolkits for making projection more possible.

Brett Jones, a Masters Candidate in the Department of Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, writes to describe his latest project.

First, I wanted to say that I am an avid follower of your blog and greatly appreciate the time it must take be on the forefront of the video projection mapping blogosphere.

I wanted to let you know about a post that you might find particularly interesting.

I am currently working on a spatially augmented reality/projection mapping toolkit at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We recently posted two videos that might be of interest.

The first video is a work in progress demo of our toolkit and the second video is a new media installation piece that demonstrates the complex mappings that are possible.

What’s especially cool about this technique is that tracking uses embedded light sensors. A game engine can then map very accurately onto boxes and even mannequin heads.

It’s good stuff, and given how much mileage we’ve gotten out of walls by being creative with content, imagine how much more you could get out of additional projection surfaces – now with easier, accurate three-dimensional mappings?

We’ll be following this one, for sure, especially once the toolkit is ready for public consumption. Thanks, Brett!

Spatially Augmented Reality Toolkit (Work in progress videos)
Projection Mapping Demo

…both via the Augmented Engineering blog by Brett Jones and Rajinder Sodhi.

And, wow, this is wonderfully creepy: