A sub-centimeter mapping technology used by the Mars rovers and other robots is now on the iPad, where it can be used to build real-time 3-D maps of your environment. What better use for this than an augmented-reality first-person shooter game?
Swedish startup 13th Lab is implementing a computer vision technique called Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), which constructs a 3-D map of a local environment in real time and calculates the current position within it. The result is a new iPad app called Ball Invasion (get it here), wherein the camera's view becomes a playing field. Instead of advanced robotic sensors and controls, the app just needs the camera and other sensors native to mobile devices.
This is quite a feat, and a potential new avenue for augmented reality. Unlike most AR systems, it doesn't require previously known markers to trigger the virtual display — it can augment any environment, previously seen or unseen, simply by using the iPad2's camera.
The goal of the game is to shoot malicious balls hiding in the real world, which becomes part of the playing field — you can bounce virtual items off the actual walls, for instance. The video below shows it in action.
SLAM was developed to help robots determine where they are, by looking around and building a 3-D model of their environment and then determining their place in it. It's a tough chicken-or-egg problem and one of the most complicated topics in robotics sensing, but, as GigaOM points out, 13th Lab has figured out how to compress this complex capability into a consumer device. So far, it's only possible with the iPad2's powerful dual-core A5 CPU, 13th Lab says (though they probably haven't tried using the next-gen quad-core Kal-El yet).
13th Lab's overall goal is far broader than 3-D games: they want to build a 3-D toolkit for other app developers, according to GigaOM. Ball Invasion is simply the first example.
This type of technology could conceivably be used for many other things, from architecture design to augmented-reality tours. For now, though, this game seems pretty fun:
hopefully there isn't a restrictive patent on this. those markers always did seem kinda annoying, this would be a good way forward for AR
so does this build a 3d version of what ever its looking at like the kinect does?
this is just a hyped up version of face raiders.
Please stop everything that you are not familiar as NASA technology. It is nonsense and simply incorrect. SLAM has been developed for DARPA many years ago and leading research teams are now in Google, Mercedes-Benz, Italy, and Carnegie-Mellon.
Are we so desperate to save NASA to label all cool things after it?
I was thinking Beyond visual range combat for fighter pilots.Airspace,traffic,weather,runways should be on their too.
This is awesome. Sub-centimeter 3D mapping using a single camera? How the... you know, I won't ask, because I'm sure I won't understand the mathematics behind it anyway.
My favorite part of this is that, from the video, it doesn't seem jumpy at all, unlike more AR systems. I'm assuming that's either because it's not dependent on a marker, or because of the supreme accuracy of the navigation. Either way: me amo. Lo quiero. That is, "I love it. I want it."
But, damn, I don't have an iPad. Do I want to buy an iPad just for this? Hmm...tough choice...
-IMP ;) :)