Nieuws - 31 maart 2010

Calling the future campus

To see something which doesn't (yet) exist. Life-like. Lately, this has become possible with the newest cell phones. The Centre for Geo-Information (CGI) has found an amazing application: the AR Campus

The future Orion
AR stands for Augmented Reality. That's virtual information merged imperceptibly into real images. Still baffled? Think then of skating during the Olympic Games in Vancouver, says Jandirk Bulens of CGI. 'There was a blue line gliding in front of the skaters showing the fastest time attained at that moment. That's augmented reality.' The CGI has developed a home-based AR application to draw attention to its new visualization research work. The AR Campus can be viewed with the right code and the latest generation of cell phones: smartphones such as the Apple iPhone and the HTC Hera. These telephones are equipped with a video camera, GPS, compass and gyroscope, as a result of which no movement is left undetected.

In such a manner did a group of bosses from Wageningen UR wander about the campus last Thursday, their eyes fixed on their cell phones. Not unlike Japanese on a safari. They were delighted with the unknown possibilities of such a plaything. Symbols drifted continuously across the screen, indicating where to find the objects with information released by Bulens and his colleagues from local databases on, for example, flora and fauna or art and culture. Just a few touches were all it took to conjure up such information on the screen. In text, image or sound.
The best demonstration is by far and doubtless the information about Orion. The building exists now only on the drawing board. But take a look at this plaything and there it is, as real as Forum or Atlas. And it gets bigger with every step you take towards it. Bulens has planted a virtual palm tree in Orion. 'Look for it', says the assignment. Goodness gracious, there it is, inside Orion, on the ground floor.
Well, the accuracy of this toy is totally dependent on the GPS signal. And a bit of sun will make the small screen difficult to read from. But its possibilities are enormous. 'An impressive application which evokes the imagination', says Thijs Breukink (Executive Board) his enthusiasm clearly showing through. Applications come easily to mind. 'During open house days, for example, or during introduction days.'
'This will take the youth by storm', says Ad van der Have (Facilities & Services). 'They'll all be walking with this telephone in three years' time.' He would very much like to link the artistic route on campus to it. 'We haven't put up any signs on purpose as we're thinking of placing the information on the web. And this would be perfect for it.'
Apart from touristy and fun uses, many other applications are thinkable. Director Kees Slingerland (Environmental Sciences Group) points to its use in planological developments. 'We're disturbed all the time because people can't read maps, or just don't understand the given information.' The latest technique turns abstract plans into lifelike images. And you can comment on them immediately. Online, of course.