Bringing Augmented Reality to Mobile Phones

University dissertation from New York, USA : ACM

Abstract: With its mixing of real and virtual, Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that has attracted lots of attention from the science community and is seen as a perfect way to visualize context-related information. Computer generated graphics is presented to the user overlaid and registered with the real world and hence augmenting it. Promising intelligence amplification and higher productivity, AR has been intensively researched over several decades but has yet to reach a broad audience.This thesis presents efforts in bringing Augmented Reality to mobile phones and thus to the general public. Implementing technologies on limited devices, such as mobile phones, poses a number of challenges that differ from traditional research directions. These include: limited computational resources with little or no possibility to upgrade or add hardware, limited input and output capabilities for interactive 3D graphics. The research presented in this thesis addresses these challenges and makes contributions in the following areas:Mobile Phone Computer Vision-Based TrackingThe first contribution of thesis has been to migrate computer vision algorithms for tracking the mobile phone camera in a real world reference frame - a key enabling technology for AR. To tackle performance issues, low-level optimized code, using fixed-point algorithms, has been developed.Mobile Phone 3D Interaction TechniquesAnother contribution of this thesis has been to research interaction techniques for manipulating virtual content. This is in part realized by exploiting camera tracking for position-controlled interaction where motion of the device is used as input. Gesture input, made possible by a separate front camera, is another approach that is investigated. The obtained results are not unique to AR and could also be applicable to general mobile 3D graphics.Novel Single User AR ApplicationsWith short range communication technologies, mobile phones can exchange data not only with other phones but also with an intelligent environment. Data can be obtained for tracking or visualization; displays can be used to render graphics with the tracked mobile phone acting as an interaction device. Work is presented where a mobile phone harvests a sensor-network to use AR to visualize live data in context.Novel Collaboration AR ApplicationsOne of the most promising areas for mobile phone based AR is enhancing face-to-face computer supported cooperative work. This is because the AR display permits non-verbal cues to be used to a larger extent. In this thesis, face-to-face collaboration has been researched to examine whether AR increases awareness of collaboration partners even on small devices such as mobile phones. User feedback indicates that this is the case, confirming the hypothesis that mobile phones are increasingly able to deliver an AR experience to a large audience.