Development, Education

Robot Photographer (Part II)

A new milestone for the robot photographer! Here's a list of new things that the robot is capable of:

  • It has been taught to detect and track humans in Kinect's depth image!
  • Depth and photographic cameras have been aligned (camera intrinsics and extrinsics have been calibrated). This effectively means that given a point on one image plane (e.g. in the depth image), a robot is able to tell where the corresponding point would be on the other image plane (e.g. in a photograph).
  • Composition and framing modules have been implemented, i.e. now the robot knows how a "good" picture looks like.

All in all, this means that the "beta" version of the robot is now fully functional. Here's a new video of it in action!

Robot photographer development: human head tracking and picture framing

Next step: real world deployment!

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Development, Education

3D Display Simulation using Head-Tracking with Kinect

During my final year in Cambridge I had the opportunity to work on the project that I wanted to implement for the last three years: a glasses-free 3D display.

1. Introduction

It all started when I saw Johnny Lee's "Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii Remote" project in early 2008 (see below). He cunningly used the infrared camera in the Nintendo Wii's remote and a head mounted sensor bar to track the location of the viewer's head and render view dependent images on the screen. He called it a "portal to the virtual environment".

I always thought that it would be really cool to have this behaviour without having to wear anything on your head (and it was - see the video below!).

My "portal to the virtual environment" which does not require head gear. And it has 3D Tetris!

I am a firm believer in three-dimensional displays, and I am certain that we do not see the widespread adoption of 3D displays simply because of a classic network effect (also know as "chicken-and-egg" problem). The creation and distribution of a three-dimensional content is inevitably much more expensive than a regular, old-school 2D content. If there is no demand (i.e. no one has a 3D display at home/work), then the content providers do not have much of an incentive to bother creating the 3D content. Vice versa, if there is no content then consumers do not see much incentive to invest in (inevitably more expensive) 3D displays.

A "portal to the virtual environment", or as I like to call it, a 2.5D display could effectively solve this. If we could enhance every 2D display to get what you see in Johnny's and my videos (and I mean every: LCD, CRT, you-name-it), then suddenly everyone can consume the 3D content even without having the "fully" 3D display. At that point it starts making sense to mass-create 3D content.

The terms "fully" and 2.5D, however, require a bit of explanation. Continue reading

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