Man has always toyed with different ideas in which communication can be done. The telephone was one of the greatest inventions of the 19th Century. The television of the 20th. Technology enthusiasts had long fantasized about telephones which could make you “see” the other end. And then suddenly came the world of video cameras and computers and the internet. It was no longer a big deal to have a video chat or send photographs 10,000 miles away in a second.
The quality of those videos and photographs has also increased tremendously in the past decade. However, we’re still far from a near perfect solution when it comes to imaging. The difference between what we see in real life and what we see on the screen is apparent but not for so long.
We all know that the conventional mirror being the most reliable way of actually viewing oneself. A camera image is nowhere close to that. A lot of techniques have tried to mimic the same but unsuccessfully.
In one of their patents, a group of American and Japanese inventors claim to have invented a way of actually being able to achieve this feat of capturing the perfect image.
They have invented a system that utilizes a camera and a flat panel display that will provide you an experience of looking at the mirror. The system utilizes technologies like augmented reality and adaptive image transformation for implementing this. When the image stream from the camera is displayed on the screen, it appears to mimic a reflection in a mirror, rather than a recorded video stream.
Let’s get down to the technology behind this system that utilizes telepresence and augmented reality ingeniously with image transformation techniques. Let’s find out how and what have been used by the inventors to achieve this feat.
The Augmented Reality Mirror Consists of –
The system can include a LED, LCD, plasma glass or the like. It can be mounted on wall or on a dedicated stand. The mirror like system will come with a matte finish so that a user can’t see a mirror reflection of him.
The mirror system will consist of calibrated camera that is capable of providing augmented reality features. The patent suggests integrating microwave sensor in the screen. This will detect the shape of your body to provide you a better experience along with a depth sensor that will provide an accurate 3D manipulation of the image.
How the Augmented Reality Mirror Utilizes Adaptive Transformation Mapping
The camera(s) will generate a stream of images of the user and send it across to a processor. The processor employed here detects the presence of the user and applies adaptive transformation mapping to the stream of images generated.
What is Adaptive Transformation Mapping – This is image transformation technique that is a combination of at least two of the followings transformation– Vertical flip, projection transformation, rotation re-size, 2D offset, optic distortion correction etc.
The adaptive transformation uses the stream of images to generate virtual reality in real time. The original images from the camera are discarded, and instead the virtual world is presented on the monitor.
The real time images are used to generate avatar of the user by utilizing augmented reality. The augmented reality allows a user to virtually dress themselves, change appearances, such as color, accessories, etc. For example, before a video call or telepresence, you can change the color of your shirt or you can wear a virtual tie by using augmented reality.
Applications of AR Enabled Mirror
There could be various applications of this technology. We’ve listed out a few of them here:
Augmented reality Mirror and Telepresence: Of course, it is needless to state how drastically the experience of a video conference or video chat could change with better imaging. If users can’t distinguish between a real life image and the one that created by this technology, their experience would be equivalent to meeting in person.
Imagine how that could change the world!
Imagine Russian and the American Presidents holding high level talks about a potential political crisis or Indian entrepreneurs pitching their products to investors in the Silicon Valley without actually having to go there.
It could avert war, uplift economies or even disrupt the travel industry.
At a more micro level, you could actually maintain that long distance relationship and also not bear up with comments from formidable aunts about never to visiting them. It could be so close to actually being there in person. Technology is indeed no less than magic!
In Healthcare and Patient Monitoring:
Telemedicine is said to be the future of medical sciences. This Mirror use augmented reality and image transformation to provide enhanced video and imaging capabilities, and a doctor can use it for video conferencing with his patient and it could become as common as conferencing in corporate boardrooms.
A doctor can use this mirror for patient diagnostic and patient monitoring. For example, better imaging could be used for diagnosing skin problems, cancer, melanoma, breast changes that can suggest further testing for breast cancer, eye problems, spine, bones, muscles and body flexibility trends and changes.
The Augmented Reality Mirror Can Provide Robust Security:
This mirror is already using augmented reality and image transformation techniques and by additionally using Eyes-Match with face recognition it can be used for authentication purposes. The patent suggests that by using a camera above a security door facing down about 30-45 degrees can authenticate a person easily while he will be moving freely below the camera.
For even more robust security additional body authentication sensors like voice, smell, palm, fingerprint, eyes, DNA, skeleton with X-ray sensors or ultrasound etc can be used.
Create Your Avatar and Change your Appearance before a video conference:
The mirror can create your avatar using augmented reality. You can change your appearance before a conference like you can change your dress, can wear accessories, and can change your hair style, background and the like.
The mirror has a microwave sensor that can analyze shapes and body mass index of a user easily and based on this information size recommendation will be made by it.
The mirror can be configured to engage a friend before a particular purchase. For example, you can take the advice of your best friend before purchasing a new top. Moreover, the mirror will show you the product in different colors so that you can select a color that suits you best.
But of course, the devil lies in the detail. An idea and implementation are two different things. Manufacturing an augmented reality mirror that utilizes adaptive image transformation for domestic and personal use would be as challenging as going from the 1st Generation of computers to the present day technology. But it may happen at a much faster rate given the rate of current technological advancement and as correctly pointed out by Mr Moore in his famous prediction.
Happy thinking. 🙂