Computer vision and design

Augmented Reality does not escape the paradox of electronic media: the technology must be so powerful that it becomes invisible. The designers’ work presented in this exhibition is based on scientific research by pioneers of Computer Vision such as Julien Pilet, Vincent Lepetit and the EPFL Computer Vision Laboratory (CVLab) led by Professor Pascal Fua. The principle of Augmented Reality is as follows: a camera films the scene, a computer analyses the image to tag a specific object and adds virtual content to it, and a screen displays the object augmented with images, texts or animations in real time. The main technical challenge is to recognize the object to be augmented almost instantly and with high reliability. During the years 2000, Julien Pilet and Vincent Lepetit established principles to make this possible without tagging the objects with highly visible markers, such as QR codes. This means that, for the user, objects remain intact and no artificial mark disrupts the relationship between the physical and virtual worlds.

Gimme More goes beyond the scientific definition of AR, linked to the visual recognition of a specific object. Under the leadership of the engineering team at EPFL+ECAL Lab, Gimme More also explores other technological principles to produce similar effects using peripheral devices such as Kinect, infrared pointers or motion tracking.

Today, AR has reached a first stage of technological maturity, despite some limitations such as variable lighting, low-contrast image recognition or 3D rendering issues. Although scientific research offers more and more solutions to provide even greater creative freedom, designers also propose additional responses based on human perception and emotions. Science and design must join forces to enable Augmented Reality to open up new worlds, where the material and the immaterial interact in an unprecedented dialogue.