Last time we looked at our new website mixing face tracking and augmented reality: expandAR.com. This time we'd like to talk more about a proof-of-concept experiment we've just posted at expandAR.com/w using the same technology: with this version, instead of the software messing with their own face, the user sees themselves transformed into four of the characters from Disney's new hit film, Alice in Wonderland. The images used to create this demo are, of course, © 2010 by Walt Disney Pictures.
Can you imagine watching a program or a commercial where you see yourself inserted into the action using the approach we're showing here, with your face changing to different characters, or being modified in interesting ways as different things happen to you? So can we!
We see this as a starting point for something that any film, television, or commercial producer could use to allow people to see themselves as part of the action, to become part of the show. It's important to remember as you look at these stills from the site that this is really full-motion video of the user being inserted into these faces, which makes the experience just that much more engaging. What about a website that shows clips from famous movies and lets people see themselves as an interesting/amusing part of the clip? Talk about your remix culture.
Also, there are other interactive story-telling options here: users could be presented with choices, and depending upon their response they would see themselves transformed in various ways. Likewise, this could make for an immersive and entertaining educational or gaming experience.
Several things are happening to make this magic happen. First of all, facial recognition software is locating the user's face, and continually adjusting for their position within the image and how near/far they are from their webcam. Then, real-time video is being grabbed of the person's face. The image of this face is adjusted in real time to match the color and brightness of Tim Burton's imaginative images. In some cases the face is also being warped or tilted to have it match the look of the film's characters even more.
The fact that all this is able to be done in flash, so it doesn't require the user to download any additional software makes this a great promotional tool. The fact that it is a form of augmented reality that doesn't require the user to print out a marker also ensures that more people will be likely to try the site out.
In case you missed it from last time, we're going to close here with our movie demonstrating the original version of expandAR. Thank you to the people who have sent us pictures of themselves having their reality expanded in various crazy ways by the expandAR website, please keep 'em coming!
And if you are a film or television producer looking for an innovative way to engage your audience, let us know, we'd love to discuss how Augmented Reality might be just the solution you've been looking for.
A direct link to the above video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FToeYWCAoYk
May all your days be augmented ones,
The Talking Dog AR team.
PS - Talking Dog president Rob Bryanton has also posted an entry about this over at his Imagining the Tenth Dimension blog, check it out.