Creating augmented reality by merging real and virtual environments

At Keio University, the Sugimoto Group, in the Faculty of Science and Technology, is doing research on augmented reality environments, which enable interactions to take account of user recognition and situations in the actual environment.

In constructing an augmented reality environment, one of challenging issues is accurate sensing in the real environment. The Sugimoto Group uses an approach called Display-Based Computing, using intensity patterns with a projector and light sensors. The researchers are building a measurement system that models the real environment, by measuring position and attitude using depth cameras. By using both visible and infrared lights, this system makes it possible to create an augmented reality environment by dynamic projection, where positions are aligned with high accuracy. The Sugimoto Group is also researching the use of projection to create real-world game environments. This involves new image presentation devices, such as compact robot projectors, which use technology for measuring position and attitude in the augmented reality environment. Other research projects by the Group include systems for displaying freely chosen cross-sections in medical images, and remote control interfaces for robots with depth cameras, which can work while ascertaining future situations.

"To construct augmented reality environments, a very important aspect of our research is finding clues about how to merge the real environment and the virtual environment in a computer. What we do is, we utilize measurement technology using spatially structured intensity indices, achieved by combining light sensors and projectors, and measurement technology based on image processing with depth cameras. In other words, we create AR environments based on various measurement technologies."

The Sugimoto Group is also working on human interfaces that take account of the spatial nature of real environments, rather than just doing information processing in a computer. The researchers also prioritize measurement technology and real time interaction of the system with users. In this way, the Group is doing R&D to create augmented reality environments that are closely linked to real environments.

"In our research, we design interfaces to connect information with people. By seamlessly integrating information in computers and networks with the real environment, we'd like to create a future where people can get information support from computers, simply by behaving naturally in an ordinary environment."

By combining real and virtual environments, the Sugimoto Group aims to create new forms of interaction among people, and between people and environments. The Group will keep moving ahead with its research, aiming to create augmented reality environments that seamlessly connect real environments where we live, and information environments consisting of computers and networks.