Isis Licenses Augmented Reality Software
03 March 2010
Three-dimensional animated graphics can be merged into live video in real time to create a fusion of real and computer-generated visuals by software created at the University of Oxford’s Department of Engineering Science.
The software, called Parallel Tracking and Mapping (PTAM), has been licensed to augmented reality company QderoPateo LLC by Oxford’s technology transfer company Isis Innovation. QderoPateo will integrate the software into mobile phone applications, to provide novel advertising and other services.
PTAM is a camera-tracking system which maps an environment visible through the camera, and can locate surfaces such as a table top in a room or the ground outside. These surfaces become the platforms on which a virtual object’s movements are played out. It does this in real time without using pre-stored maps or tagged environments.
The software builds a detailed 3-D map containing thousands of features which can be tracked at frame-rate with an accuracy and robustness rivalling that of model-based systems. The software can also recognise objects and scenes through the appearance of clusters of features that form a digital signature of the location. As the map is built, the camera viewpoint and angle is calculated whereby 3-D graphics can be projected into the video stream so that they appear to belong in the same scene.
“The blending of real and virtual worlds is common enough in films and television, but is usually achieved by extensive processing of the recorded images or by filming in studios with known objects at fixed locations. The PTAM software allows developers to augment a camera’s video stream in real time and in everyday locations. It allows developers to build augmented reality applications for consumer markets and education, both quickly and economically,” said Professor David Murray of Oxford’s Active Vision Group.
Implemented on smartphones, PTAM can supplement sensors like GPS and digital compasses, both to improve the accuracy of the positioning and also to maintain the position when out of range of satellite, 3G and WiFi signals.
For instance, a location-aware app on your phone may help you to identify and navigate towards restaurants in your immediate vicinity. With a PTAM-enabled app, an avatar could appear in your camera view and lead you down the street towards the restaurant while explaining the menu and making your reservation.
Steve Chao, cofounder of QderoPateo said: “Our goal in the next ten years is to grow the mobile AR market from a simple information service to a fully-blown augmented reality search and gaming engine running on “Ouidoo”, our next generation smartphone.”
Ouidoo, expected to make its debut at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo this spring, incorporates AR software in a user-friendly, mobile multimedia platform called Spaceshow. QderoPateo plans to integrate the Oxford software into their platform allowing third party software developers to create a more intuitive and immersive end-user experience.
Chao aims to implement what he calls “Articulated Naturality”. Articulated Naturality combines augmented reality, artificial intelligence and image recognition to merge the real-world views of two or more users who are physically separated, but connected through a centralised service provider. This will be achieved using smartphones with multiple cameras, such that each user sees his environment augmented by animated images of the other users.
Isis is also looking for commercial partners who will develop the software for a variety of other useful applications.
For more information
Prof. David Murray
Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
T: +44 (0)1865 273106
Business Relationship Manager, Isis Innovation
T: +44 (0)1865 280850
About Isis Innovation
Isis Innovation is the University of Oxford's technology transfer company and manages the University's intellectual property portfolio, working with University researchers on identifying, protecting and marketing technologies through licensing, spin-out company formation and material sales. Isis files on average one new patent application each week, has concluded over 400 technology licensing agreements, and established 64 new spin-out companies from Oxford. Isis also manages Oxford University Consulting, which arranges consulting services providing clients access to the world-class expertise of the University's academics to enhance innovative capability. Last year OUC arranged over 150 consulting deals. Isis has established a separate business division, Isis Enterprise, offering consulting expertise and advice in technology transfer and open innovation to university, government and industrial clients around the world. Isis was founded in 1987 and is today one of the world's leading technology transfer and innovation management companies.