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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

They Still Make Popular Science?

Posted by on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 2:16 PM

adfc/1245181077-popscicover3d.pngThe new issue of Popular Science has the world's "first interactive 3-D "augmented reality" magazine cover."

How does it work? Just head over to, launch the viewer window, and hold the cover of the magazine up to your computer's webcam — you'll see a 3-D landscape dotted with wind turbines pop off the page; by blowing into your computer's microphone, you can even make the turbines spin faster.

This sort of thing has appeared on Slog before (I can't locate the specific post), but I believe this is the first mass-market application of the technology. I still can't see exactly what it's good for except being cool.


Comments (8) RSS

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Seems like popular science thinks it's good for selling magazines.
Posted by Frank Rizzo on June 16, 2009 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Here are some more practical examples of what the technology might be good for.

LAYAR is an app that uses your cell-phone video camera to let you look at the city THROUGH your phone while it augments that image with location-specific information: available jobs, real estate, night-life.

Here are two examples of game-applications. Here is a virtual pet that is overlaid onto your physical desktop using black-and white tiles:…

Here is a more elaborate "zombie game":…

Lastly - think of the fun you could have using these things in combination. The QRCode, a two dimensional bar-code, could be used for both position and index purposes. Your band-poster could be a QR Code sticker that when viewed through an Augmented Reality device would have whatever information you updated it with - your next show, a song, hell - bands could have iguanas scaling light poles singing about the next album release.

Augmented Reality is going to take the issue of blue-tooth headsets and create a city where we are not simply talking to people "not there" - but now we're not even SEEING the same things.

Good times, good times.
Posted by John Galt on June 16, 2009 at 2:50 PM · Report this
gfish 3
@2: There obviously isn't any need to use QRCode or similar markup tools. Neither the magazine cover nor the zombie game use them, after all. SIFT (or similar) image features are far more generalized, less intrusive, and really just about as accurate for matching pure affine transformations like 2D printed surfaces.
Posted by gfish on June 16, 2009 at 3:14 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 4
IBM did this last year.
Posted by Will in Seattle on June 16, 2009 at 3:25 PM · Report this
@3 - The "Zombie Game" does use a markup device in the form of the board-game map. The magazine cover appears to be using the right-angle in orange, as well as the conspicuous black bars one the left and right margins of the cover. If you look at the video - this is more obvious:…

While LAYAR is using geo-positioning (GPS with compass bearing) anything requiring exacting position would need some sort of artificial reference point to determine the exact position and orientation.

I was positing that something like QRCode would be used not because they're necessarily the most advanced technology, but that they are easily reproduced, could weather well, and have the cache of being uninterpretable to an unaided human. It could be social crack for teenagers.

*) Your favorite band could hand out cards at their show, and when you look at them later you could see messages and up-to-date information. Based on the networked device that you were looking at the card through (who's phone it was for example) - you could see different, "secret" information. Authority figures would see nothing.

*) A racier idea - how about something like a QRCode woven into your clothes? Or stuck to your backback? Your friends would be able to see your familiar. Or heck, maybe see an image of you naked. All that would require is a unique id markup, and a portable implementation of something like Microsoft's NATAL (…)
Posted by John Galt on June 16, 2009 at 3:38 PM · Report this
The Amazing Jim 6
Sometimes being cool is enough.
Posted by The Amazing Jim on June 16, 2009 at 4:31 PM · Report this
Re: Your snarky headline.

Popular Science has a paid circulation of 1.3 million.

The Stranger has a paid circulation of 0.
Posted by alwaysamasshole on June 16, 2009 at 4:47 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 8
And Popular Science just had an article about this cool flying car that we'll all be driving in a couple of years!

Oh Snap!
Posted by Dr_Awesome on June 16, 2009 at 6:58 PM · Report this

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