Team develops X-ray vision for mobile phones

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The University of South Australia and Nokia have teamed up to produce an application that allows phone users to see through walls.

The augmented reality system works by overlaying graphics on top of real-world video images.

It comes in three versions: X-ray Vision, Meltvision and Distortvision.

Meltvision and X-ray Vision both work to reveal occluded points of interest. But, says Dr Christian Sandor, Director of the Magic Vision Lab at UniSA, Meltvision, where obstructive objects appear to melt away, is preferred by users over X-ray Vision.

Distortvision alters the mobile video image so that objects out of the line of sight can be ‘bent’ into vision.

"More and more applications use high-quality 3D models, such as Google Earth, or photos, such as Google Streetview, of the environment. But with these approaches the real and virtual worlds are disconnected," he says.

"Our new applications present the real and virtual worlds together. For example, with Meltvision, you can ‘melt’ away a building in front of you to see whether or not there is an ATM in the street behind it.

"This is much easier than a pop up arrow or text that would tell you which direction to travel in. You can see it for yourself, as if it were ahead of you."

The team has also been working on technology that allows people to see and feel virtual objects – Visuo-Haptic Augmented Reality - something Sandor says could change the face of industrial design.

It allows a user to manipulate a virtual 3D object using a head mounted display and touch-based devices.

"The current method for prototyping involves the development of a 3D design using a computer, which can be viewed on screen or printed out in what is a relatively static presentation," he says.

"If developers want to touch a prototype, they must use a 3D printer to create a physical model. 3D printers are slow and expensive and changes to the shape are costly and labor intensive. With our technology, changes to the shape can be made and felt instantaneously."

There's video of the projects, here.