Mapping Physical Spaces and Seeing Virtual Ones

Despite the numerous questions that we all had upon leaving Prometheus (perhaps best covered in this video by the guys over at Red Letter Media), the idea of mapping space in three dimensions in real time was pretty cool. The funny thing is that research in this area at MIT predated the movie, and remains active. What surprised me, though, was when I watched the video for Occipital’s Structure Sensor, which aims to bring the technology into the commercial space….and began thinking about the larger issue of augmented reality.

Last year, probably while browsing Reddit, I learned about MIT’s work on automatic building mapping. The article was interesting and the video was, well, for lack of a better word, trippy:

I thought the video was kind of cool in an abstract sort of way but, at the time, I had a hard time imagining a practical commercial application.

Fortunately, the folks at Occipital are significantly more imaginative in terms of the application of three-dimensional mapping technologies than I am. Their Structure Sensor, as envisioned in its Kickstarter video, is pretty interesting:

As someone who has wrestled with the tape measure trying to get an accurate measure of a room, the Structure Sensor is kind of interesting…and the idea of it being an avenue to augmented reality gaming equally so given some of the other nascent and emerging technologies in the space. Google Glass is exciting but, in my opinion, Meta‘s Space Glasses paint the picture of a more interesting and compelling future:

Two things about Meta’s video really struck me:

  1. The idea of working on a virtual object and then making it real by using a 3D printer, and
  2. The idea of knowing what Lego pieces you needed to make a model and highlighting them for you.

Coupled with the spatial mapping, I am imagining that you could start to have some really cool museum tours as the system recognizes what museum you are at (by way of GPS), what room you are in (by way of spatial mapping and recognition), and what piece of art you are looking at (by way of orientation within the room and object recognition). Likewise, it will be interesting when your vacation is captured in ways that allow you to re-experience (or share) it through devices like the Occulus Rift.

We still might not have have robed women in holograms telling us that we’re their only hope, but seeing these technologies and imagining how they might converge is pretty interesting…

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